Research to Improve Pregnancy Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women in the Northern Territory

Research to Improve Pregnancy Outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women in the Northern Territory

Dr Renae Kirkham, Senior research officer from Menzies School of Health Research is using a Diabetes Australia Research Program grant, to better understand how diabetes impacts the pregnancies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

Dr Kirkham works for the Northern Territory Diabetes in Pregnancy Partnership and is involved in evaluating models of care for diabetes in pregnancy across the Northern Territory.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience higher rates of both type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes in pregnancy. Dr Kirkham says that “pre-existing type 2 diabetes is experienced 10 times more than for non-indigenous women and gestational diabetes at one and a half times the rate.

“Having a pregnancy complicated with diabetes puts both the mother and infant at risk of poorer health outcomes in the short and longer term. However, good self-management and appropriate access to care can alleviate risk factors.“

Dr Kirkham’s study aims to provide insight into what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the Northern Territory understand about their condition, what support they require and what constitutes appropriate access to care for them. Women and their Health Care providers will be interviewed and the study, which sits within the broader Northern Territory Diabetes in Pregnancy Partnership, provides a mechanism to translate recommendations from the study into policy and practice.