There has been a marked increase in the prevalence of diabetes in Asia over recent years. Diabetes complicating pregnancy, in particular gestational diabetes, has also increased markedly in the region. Multi-ethnic studies have highlighted the increased risk of gestational diabetes mellitus among the different Asian populations. Prevalence of gestational diabetes in Asian countries varies substantially according to the screening strategy and diagnostic criteria applied, and ranges from 1% to 20%, with evidence of an increasing trend over recent years. The International Association for Diabetes in Pregnancy Study group criteria have been adopted by some Asian countries, although they present significant challenges in implementation, especially in low-resource settings. Studies on offspring of mothers with gestational diabetes have reported adverse cardiometabolic profiles and increased risk of diabetes and obesity. Gestational diabetes is likely to be a significant factor contributing to the epidemic of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases in the Asian region. In recognition of this, several large-scale prevention and intervention programmes are currently being implemented in different Asian countries in order to improve glucose control during pregnancy, as well as overall maternal health. Lessons emerging from gestational diabetes studies in Asia may help inform and provide insights on the overall burden and treatment strategies to target gestational diabetes, with the ultimate aim to reduce its adverse short- and long-term consequences.
© 2014 The Authors. Diabetic Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Diabetes UK.