12 Jan 2018
KKH gathers Asian key opinion leaders at the first Singapore Diabetes in Pregnancy Conference - Meeting will explore extending reach of research network to countries in Asia and Oceania

Singapore, 12 January 2018 – Key members from the Integrated Platform for Research in Advancing Metabolic Health Outcomes in Women and Children (IPRAMHO), led by KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), in partnership with the SingHealth Polyclinics and National Healthcare Group Polyclinics, will be meeting with members from the Maternal and Fetal Medicine Committee, Asia and Oceania Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (AOFOG), today to discuss extending the reach of IPRAMHO research network to countries in Asia and Oceania with high rates of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and type 2 diabetes. The new network aims to achieve a consensus of metabolic health screening approaches in countries in Asia and Oceania.

Senior Minister of State for Health, Dr Amy Khor, will be gracing the event this afternoon at KKH. More than 20 key opinion leaders (details available in Annex A) from Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand will be attending the conference.

Professor Tan Kok Hian, Lead Principal Investigator of IPRAMHO, and Head and Senior Consultant, Perinatal Audit and Epidemiology Unit, KKH, said, “Today’s meeting is an unprecedented opportunity for the facilitation of discussion and forging of collaborations on education and research into GDM, obesity and metabolic diseases among the regional leaders. During this two-day meeting, we hope to discover new evidence-based, effective and affordable interventions that could prevent and detect metabolic diseases early.”

Metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes are the two of today’s most serious public health problems. Singapore has one of the highest incidences of GDM worldwide; based on current statistics, it is estimated that more than 6,000 pregnant women suffer from GDM each year, of whom more than 4,000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime.

As Singapore’s first research ecosystem for metabolic health in women and children, IPRAMHO seeks to develop a seamless, integrated model of care, which includes a national registry, as well as optimise implementation of effective population prevention strategies, and diabetes and weight reduction programmes, supported by evidence-based collaborative joint research. Professor Tan added, “By looking at women’s and children’s health starting from the womb, and optimising the continuum of care from pregnancy to childbirth, neonate to infant, child, adolescent and eventually adult, we are laying the foundation for transformation of our nation’s health, and improving the future of our generations to come.”

Since its establishment in June 2017, some IPRAMHO research studies on GDM have been initiated. One such recent study by KKH and Duke-NUS has shown that advanced maternal age and high body mass index remain the strongest risk factors for diabetes during pregnancy in Singapore. The findings from the study corroborate KKH’s current practice of offering GDM screening to all pregnant women between 24 and 28 weeks gestation. Other healthcare strategies such as enhancing education and advice on lifestyle practices, supporting compliance earlier in the pregnancy and encouraging motherhood at an earlier age, may be developed to prevent and manage GDM in this high-risk patient group.

There are imminent plans for IPRAMHO to function as a centralised research and training hub, spur industry partnerships, collaborate with global healthcare leaders, and seed grants for research in medical technology, healthcare innovation, nutrition and dietetics. It will also provide a strong core to build a pipeline of researchers, clinician-scientists and innovators which in turn, will lead to the development of more translational research and clinical practices.

The College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Singapore, will also be launching Singapore’s first clinical guidelines for the management of GDM at the Singapore Diabetes in Pregnancy Conference. Being the healthcare leader in women’s health, KKH played a pivotal role and took the lead in its development, to guide obstetricians and gynaecologists in providing the best care possible to pregnant women in Singapore.

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