Stephanie de Sequeira, MPH
Gestational diabetes has become increasingly prevalent in Ontario, particularly among South Asian immigrant women who also have the highest risk of developing future type 2 diabetes following a gestational diabetes pregnancy. Stephanie de Sequeira, MPH, a former summer student and current research coordinator at Women’s College Research Institute (WCRI), focused her Master’s research project on reducing the risk of diabetes within this population of women.
Culturally tailored educational resources have been developed to help South Asian individuals decrease their risk of diabetes and de Sequeira was interested in exploring whether these educational resources are being used by South Asian immigrant women with gestational diabetes. Her research also addressed whether the resources accounted for the culturally prescribed gender roles of South Asian moms.
“The good news is that type 2 diabetes is preventable, especially when women are motivated to manage their gestational diabetes and decrease their risk of future type 2 diabetes with healthy behaviour changes,” says de Sequeira.
de Sequeira’s research found that South Asian immigrant women with gestational diabetes did not know that these culturally tailored resources existed. Many of my participants received and valued advice from their elders such as mothers and mothers-in-law, as their family was a huge source of support during a gestational diabetes pregnancy.
Even though the family support helped overall, some women experienced confusion when advice from family members contradicted the advice from their healthcare providers – highlighting the need for educational resources to also be created for and provided to family members.
“Family members cooked, meal-planned, gave medication reminders and did additional research to help pregnant women manage their gestational diabetes,” adds de Sequeira. “My research demonstrates the importance of putting a larger emphasis on the family unit in order to help support South Asian immigrant women with gestational diabetes to manage their current condition and prevent diabetes in the future.”