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SDRI Honors Safe Motherhood Week with a Focus on Revolutionizing Diabetes Care in Pregnancy

Sansum Diabetes Research Institute (SDRI) proudly joins the global observance of Safe Motherhood Week, a campaign dedicated to raising awareness about maternal health issues and promoting safe pregnancy and childbirth practices. For nearly 50 years – built on the legacy of Lois Jovanovic, MD, FACE, SDRI’s former Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Executive Officer – SDRI has been a thought leader for diabetes in pregnancy, including gestational diabetes, type 1 diabetes, and type 2 diabetes.

Today, SDRI is proud to be at the forefront of women’s health research, driving innovation and transforming care standards for pregnant women with diabetes. By raising awareness and providing education and support, SDRI aims to empower pregnant women living with diabetes to make informed decisions about their health and the health of their babies. At SDRI’s specialized  diabetes in pregnancy clinic, patients are offered personalized medical advice, nutrition planning, and clinical care. Each year, SDRI supports approximately 150 women annually who have a pregnancy complicated by diabetes.

Recently, SDRI completed a landmark pilot study as part of the LOIS-P Diabetes in Pregnancy Consortium, showcasing the first at-home use of a pregnancy-specific closed-loop system for pregnancies complicated by type 1 diabetes. This innovative project, conducted in partnership with Harvard University, Mayo Clinic, and Mount Sinai, underscores SDRI’s commitment to driving innovation and transforming care standards for pregnant women with type 1 diabetes.

Kristin Castorino, DO, BC-ADM, Vice President, Clinical Research and Senior Investigator at SDRI, who was mentored by Dr. Jovanovic, continues to champion access to diabetes care for ALL women who are impacted by diabetes during pregnancy, including our underserved population with health disparities. Currently Dr. Castorino and the SDRI team are working on implementing an in-depth diabetes in pregnancy education class series to improve health equity for women with diabetes during pregnancy.  What makes this program really special is that it was developed in partnership with our wonderful community partners including Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Division team at the California Department of Public Health and is led by our community health workers.

This community based, culturally and linguistically tailored program empowers  pregnant women with diabetes with health knowledge and practical tools for success so they can be actively involved in their health and wellness.  This is directly in line with California Department of Public Heath’s Title V Maternal and Child Health’s goal, that all women are ensured health before, during and after pregnancy, and to reduce the impact of chronic conditions related to maternal morbidity.

“Pregnancy can pose unique challenges for women with diabetes, but when we strive to break down barriers to care and provide women the tools they need to take care of themselves, ALL women can have healthy pregnancies, and give birth to healthy babies regardless of socioeconomic status,” said Dr. Castorino. “Safe Motherhood Week provides an opportunity to educate our community  so that we may all advocate for the needs of expectant mothers with diabetes, ensuring we aren’t just surviving but thriving.”

As SDRI looks to the future of what Safe Motherhood is, we urge stakeholders to consider motherhood not just nine months, but a continuum of care and education during a woman’s childbearing years.  As Dr. Castorino often says, “it takes more than nine months to make a healthy baby”.

The legacy of education and advocacy Jovanovic’s pioneering work demonstrating that when we take care of women before, during and after pregnancy we reduce complications of pregnancy such as preeclampsia, premature labor, necessity for labor induction, cesarean delivery, and heightened long-term risks of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and stillbirth.

As Safe Motherhood Week unfolds, SDRI reaffirms its dedication to revolutionizing diabetes care in pregnancy to improve the health and wellbeing of moms and babies.