The first-of-its-kind research in the Middle East highlights significant health challenges for expecting mothers in Qatar.
A significant proportion of pregnant women in Qatar are grappling with diabetes and thyroid issues, according to the latest data from the Qatar Birth Cohort Study.
This study, the first of its kind in the Middle East, indicates that approximately one-third of pregnant women in the nation are affected by diabetes, with gestational diabetes accounting for 30% and pre-existing diabetes for 3%.
Moreover, a concerning 19% are struggling with thyroid dysfunction.
The Qatar Biobank spearheaded this study and aims to delve into the influence of environmental, genetic, nutritional, and social factors on fetal development and the health of both mother and child.
It now seeks to enrol 3,000 families, including mothers, fathers, and children and will monitor the children’s development up to the age of five.
The Qatar Birth Cohort Study places a special emphasis on chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and mental illness, which are notably more prevalent in Qatar compared to other regions globally.
In a statement released on the X platform yesterday, Qatar BioBank remarked, “Findings from our Qatar Birth Cohort Study reveal that many pregnant women experience diabetes, with thyroid issues following closely behind.”
Participating women undergo a comprehensive clinical assessment at Qatar Biobank during their 12–15 weeks of pregnancy.
This includes a 3-hour visit entailing blood and biological sample collection and completing lifestyle questionnaires.
Follow-ups occur in the third trimester and at delivery, with the children assessed at several key developmental stages.
Fathers are also encouraged to participate in the study.
According to the 2022/2023 annual report of Qatar Biobank, over 400 pregnant women have already been recruited for the study.
The demographic breakdown shows 28% Qataris, 54% other Arab nationalities, and 17% non-Arab nationalities.
From the data collected, Qatar Biobank has made a total of 210 medical referrals, covering both mothers and fathers. Dyslipidaemia leads the referrals (59), followed by diabetes (51), and abnormal thyroid function tests (21) for pregnant women.
For fathers, the most common conditions include eczema/dermatitis, thyroid disease, and cardiovascular disease.