Reducing Risk for Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) Through a Preconception Counseling Program for American Indian/Alaska Native Girls: Perceptions From Women With Type 2 Diabetes or a History of GDM

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The Diabetes Educator

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Purpose: American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) women are disproportionately affected by gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). GDM is a risk factor for subsequent diagnosis of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in both mother and offspring, yet there is minimal research being conducted in this population. The purpose of this portion of a larger 5-year study is to examine AIAN women's experiences of having GDM or T2D during pregnancy, inform the development of a GDM risk reduction and preconception counseling (PC) program tailored to AIAN girls, and enhance mother-daughter communication and support within the program.

Methods: AIAN women with TD2 or a history of GDM (N = 5) were interviewed to understand their unique perspectives on diabetes and pregnancy, behaviors to reduce risk, and content for a PC education program for AIAN girls. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using the constant comparison method to construct themes across the interviews.

Results: Four primary themes were constructed: lack of knowledge on GDM and GDM risk factors, importance of AIAN culture for health and wellness, suggestions for communication with AIAN girls to reduce risk of GDM, and the emotional impact of GDM diagnosis.

Conclusions: Participants wished they had known about risk factors for GDM and how to reduce their own risk of developing GDM. Findings from this study have been used to adapt an existing PC program, originally developed for non-AIAN girls with diabetes, for AIAN girls who do not have diabetes but have risk factors for developing GDM in future pregnancies.


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