New research may help break the cycle of intergenerational diabetes

New research may help break the cycle of intergenerational diabetes

New research, to be undertaken at the Menzies Institute and funded by Diabetes Australia, will investigate the barriers to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers accessing optimal healthcare during pregnancy and may help to address the intergenerational cycle of diabetes.

Dr Renae Kirkham will look at a range of factors including cross-cultural communication, late initiation of antenatal care, poor access to specialist diabetes care and a lack of integration in health services.

A/Professor Greg Johnson, CEO of Diabetes Australia, said the research is important to better understand how to reduce the high rates of diabetes amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are three times more likely than non-Indigenous Australians to have diabetes or pre-diabetes,” A/Professor Johnson said.

“The high rates of diabetes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is a major contributor to the gap in life expectancy, so by making progress on diabetes we can make a genuine contribution to closing the gap.”

“One of the reasons why the rate of diabetes is so high is that the condition can become embedded in an intergenerational cycle.”

“Mothers who develop gestational diabetes are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life and so are their children.”

A/Professor Johnson said Dr Kirkham would work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to get an understanding of their perceptions of diabetes in pregnancy.

The Diabetes Australia Research Program was established in 1987 to support and develop diabetes related research across Australia. The program provides funding towards the prevention, management and cure of all types of diabetes, as well as enabling and fostering young and upcoming researchers in the field of diabetes research.

Each year outstanding research projects are selected through a merit based, competitive, peer review process.