Educational videos tackle gestational diabetes for Tamil community

Dr Lumina Titus from Bridgeview Medical Centre, Toongabbie with patient Surharshini Jeyasotharan from Pendle Hill.

Gestational diabetes is being diagnosed at an alarming rate of 18% of all pregnancies in western Sydney, with Australians from an Indian sub-continent background being at higher risk.

To tackle these high rates, Western Sydney Diabetes (WSD) and local community group Healthy Living Toongabbie (HLT) have created three videos in the Tamil language to help educate women on the risks.

WSD director and senior endocrinologist Professor Glen Maberly said gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and can lead to complications for the baby including:

  • Premature birth;
  • Excessive birth weight;
  • Infants who struggle with hypoglycaemia after birth; and
  • Ongoing health issues for the child such as an increased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

“There are also risks for mum as around half of women with GDM will go on to develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years if their condition is left untreated,” Prof Maberly said.

The good news is type 2 diabetes is preventable and manageable through healthy eating, regular physical activity, and monitoring blood glucose levels if needed.”

HLT President Shanthini Seelan, a GP at Bridgeview Medical Centre in Toongabbie, developed the video idea with HLT members last year because many of her patients were not aware of the major health risks.

Healthy Living Toongabbie president Dr Shanthini Seelan, dietitian Priya Iyer and HLT member Dr Lumina Titus from Bridgeview Medical Centre, Toongabbie.

Dr Seelan is encouraging other GPs in western Sydney to access and share the videos with their Tamil patients.

“Healthy Living Toongabbie is committed to focusing on this vulnerable group,” Dr Seelan said.

Western Sydney dietitian Priya Iyer, who presents one video on the topic of using diet to lower the risk of GDM, warned the condition is on the rise among women from South Asian backgrounds in Australia.

“I personally loved the proactive, upstream approach of creating these videos to remove communication barriers and tackle modifiable GDM risk factors among high-risk populations,” Ms Iyer said.

“Whilst there are guidelines to manage GDM and type 2 diabetes, I believe that prevention should be our primary focus for a healthier community.” 

“By providing useful easy to understand information, it goes a long way to improve health literacy.”

The other assets include a general educational video presented by Bridgeview Medical Centre GP Dr Lumina Titus, and physical activity to prevent and manage GDM while pregnant with content presented by physiotherapist Nandhini Ravi Sumathy and developed by Arkash Jayanandan from Jayamove Physio Merrylands.

Access the videos here.

Visit the Western Sydney Diabetes website for more information on gestational diabetes.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) is leading the charge on beating diabetes together as part of the Western Sydney Diabetes (WSD) initiative.

The collaborative initiative is led by WSLHD, Western Sydney Primary Health Network (WentWest), PricewaterhouseCoopers, Diabetes NSW & ACT and the Department of Primary, Industry and Environment.

Formed four years ago, HLT is made up of passionate Toongabbie health practitioners, business people and residents, dedicated to educating the community about diabetes, pre-diabetes and healthier food options.

Media inquiries: WSD eEngagement and Education Manager, Heloise Tolar, Heloise.Tolar@health.nsw.gov.au or 0417 872 245