Teaching Girls With Diabetes About Pregnancy
As a nurse and public health expert working with teens in the 1980s, Denise Charron-Prochownik, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Nursing and Graduate School of Public Health, found that many girls with diabetes weren’t aware of the additional risks high blood glucose posed to pregnant women and their babies—or even that pre-conception counseling for women with diabetes was an option.
At the same time, questionnaires showed that more than a quarter of the teen girls Charron-Prochownik worked with were sexually active. That convinced her that education about contraception and pre-conception counseling needed to start at puberty. “That’s what’s tricky,” she says. “You never know when you’re going to get pregnant.”
With the help of grants from the ADA, Charron-Prochownik developed an education program called Ready Girls, which consisted of a DVD and booklet targeted at teens. The program emphasizes the importance of family planning, contraception, and tight metabolic control starting at conception. An updated version of the booklet—Diabetes and Reproductive Health for Girls—is available for free.
Follow-up studies with some of the program’s early participants were encouraging: Girls who had been through the program started having sex two years later than girls who hadn’t and were much more likely to use contraception and raise the topic of diabetes and pregnancy with their health care providers.
ADA funding has also made it possible to adapt the Ready Girls material to address the rising numbers of girls with type 2 diabetes. “There’s very little difference: A lot of women with type 2 will go on to use insulin,” Charron-Prochownik says.
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