Women diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy, or gestational diabetes, have a high risk of getting the disease even after giving birth.

One in 10 women with a history of gestational diabetes will get Type 2 diabetes within five years, said Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor yesterday at a Women’s Wellness Day event. The statistic is from a study called Growing Up In Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes started in 2009.

To raise awareness of gestational diabetes and childhood obesity, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) and the People’s Association will hold talks on these at constituencies on a quarterly basis.

“We hope that you will encourage your family and friends to sign up for these talks, and learn more about gestational diabetes,” Dr Khor told residents at Changi Simei Community Club yesterday. The first talk is expected to be held there in three months.

There are over 400,000 people with diabetes here, but a third do not know they have the disease. Earlier this year, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said his ministry was “declaring war” on diabetes.

Dr Tan Kok Hian, senior consultant for Maternal Fetal Medicine at KKH, said there is a “rising trend” of women with gestational diabetes, the most prevalent disease among pregnant women.

“This group of women is important because they have a high risk of adult onset diabetes,” he said.

In the 1990s, the prevalence of the disease was 5 to 8 per cent, compared with 20 per cent currently.

This could be a result of how pregnant women are now older on average, not to mention more obese, he noted. Other factors behind the rise could be that more women are being screened and tests for the disease have become more accurate.

In a talk at yesterday’s event, Dr Tan said gestational diabetes can lead to complications like miscarriage and poor health in babies. He hopes more women will test themselves for diabetes six weeks after giving birth, and also annually.

Yesterday, Dr Khor, a mother of three children, shared with participants how she tries to “remove, reduce and replace” to eat healthier. She removes chicken skin, reduces sugar in coffee and replaces white rice with brown rice, she said.

“Women are key influencers, particularly for the family. They are able to influence their family in terms of healthy lifestyle habits, particularly in terms of the food they eat,” she said.