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Asthma program looks to diabetes risks in pregnant Canberra women

12 July 2019

According to Asthma Australia, pregnant women in Canberra are at risk of developing the harmful combination of maternal asthma and gestational diabetes due to common risk factors. 

“Having maternal asthma on its own is very difficult. But coupling this with gestational diabetes adds further complications to mum and her baby,” said CEO of Asthma Australia, Michele Goldman. “It can be highly stressful.”

But Asthma Australia is set to tackle this over 12 months, thanks to funding from the Healthy Canberra Grants.

Ms Goldman said thanks to the grant, women with asthma would also be screened for Type 2 diabetes risk factors when they enrolled in their asthma COACH Program®.

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“There’s common risk factors that contribute to maternal asthma and gestational diabetes.

Women seeking help for asthma will receive help with diabetes risks too,” she said.

“We’re excited to be working in collaboration with Diabetes ACT/NSW on this new multi-pronged approach.”

Ms Goldman said The COACH Program® is tailored to an individual’s needs and medical history to encourage self-management.

“Self-management plans are effective if people are supported with the appropriate level of care,” she said.

Under COACH, participants receive one-to-one phone support each month for up to six months with an Asthma Educator.

“We have a target to achieve improved pre-natal health via asthma and diabetes risk scores for at least 50% of the women who enroll in our program,” Ms Goldman said.

Rates of gestational diabetes in Canberran women are twice as high as the national average.

Women with asthma account for 12.1% of the ACT population and they are 1.3 times more likely to experience risk factors leading to Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes risk factors screened under the COACH® Program include smoking, poor nutrition, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and stress.

Asthma Australia will link their COACH Program® with Canberra hospitals, obstetricians/GP shared care, women’s clinics, pharmacies, and sexual health clinics, particularly for women with asthma who are receiving care for pre or post-natal pregnancy.

The program is free of charge and includes a translating and interpreting service for women of different cultural groups who prefer to receive support in their native language.

The COACH Program® is a free clinically proven telehealth service which covers the essentials of asthma and asthma self-management, and focuses on a person’s lifestyle, behaviours and medical history. 

To take part in The COACH Program® service, please call Asthma Australia on the 1800 Asthma Helpline (1800 278 462) during business hours, or find out more here.

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Teresa Vella

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