Australian-first program protecting women with diabetes and their babies rolls out across South West Sydney

Professor David Simmons, with patient Brittany Kennedy and her two sons Maverick and Mason.

An Australian-first program aimed at reducing malformations in babies born to mothers with diabetes has been rolled out across South-western Sydney, with the start of a district wide information programme and opening of specialised clinics.

The Diabetes Contraception and Pre-Pregnancy Program – a collaboration between Western Sydney University, South Western Sydney Local Health District and South Western Sydney PHN – ensures women with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are aware of the risks surrounding pregnancy, and provides them with multi-disciplinary support and care to help them minimise these risks.

The official launch this week marks the beginning of specialised services in Liverpool and Bankstown, adding to a suite of existing services launched in Campbelltown last year.

Western Sydney University’s Professor David Simmons says the program is important for making sure women with diabetes who are of childbearing age understand the risks of becoming pregnant without the best glucose control and either use effective contraception or access the specialised care they need if they are thinking of becoming pregnant.

“The chance of a woman with type 1 or type 2 diabetes giving birth to a baby with a malformation is around 4 per cent, which is twice as high as the rate for women without diabetes,” says Professor Simmons, from the University's School of Medicine.

“For women in South Western Sydney however, this figure is even greater - with evidence showing this risk is as high as 11 per cent in some areas. An increase caused not only by a limited understanding of the risks involved, but also by the use of ineffective contraception and a lack of access to tailored specialist services – all of which are addressed in our new program.”

Professor Simmons, who is also the Director of Endocrinology at Campbelltown Hospital, says similar programs have successfully reduced the number of babies with malformations born to women with diabetes in countries such as Ireland and the United Kingdom. Elsewhere, there have been reductions in perinatal mortality and other pregnancy complications.

The Diabetes Contraception and Pre-Pregnancy Program comprises specialised outpatient clinics at Liverpool, Bankstown/Lidcome and Campbelltown Hospitals, and comprehensive information resources for GPs, pharmacists and patients. GP’s will also have access to endocrinologist support, and a new online resource available with the support of South Western Sydney Primary Health Network. A practice liaison nurse, funded by the Primary Health Network, will also be engaged to visit hundreds of GP’s and pharmacists in the region to better educate them on best practice and the services and supports available.


1 February, 2018

Emma Sandham, Senior Media Officer