UNIVERSITY of Ibadan (UI) dons has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) mobile application that screens, tracks and offers treatment for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), using tests based on global standards and localised lifestyle modification solutions, including diet and physical exercise.
The mobile application, developed with a grant from the Embassy of France in Nigeria Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects (FSPI), is about to be tested in the Ibadan metropolis and it is to support the self-management of gestational diabetes.
Smartphone apps are increasingly being used to aid in the self-management of many conditions, including hypertension and diabetes, to ensure health and fitness. A large and ever-growing number of self-management apps have been commercially released.
The team of researchers from UI includes Dr Seyi Osunade, a computer engineer; Dr Imran Morhason-Bello, an obstetrician and gynaecologist and a clinical epidemiologist; Dr Oluyemisi Folasire, a nutritionist and family physician, and Dr Deborah Adeyemo, a legal practitioner.
According to Dr Osunade, the app for iPhone and Android users will be useful for women, especially during pregnancy, to help track their blood sugar and get appropriate dietary advice on meals to keep their blood sugar at safe levels.
“The app is close to what we see every day; it is just like doing a bank transaction on a phone. The app does not measure blood sugar, but based on what you input into it, it can evaluate and tell you whether you have gestational diabetes if you don’t or it is on the borderline. It then goes on to indicate the kind of food the woman should be eating so that she can prevent herself from going into diabetes during pregnancy,” he stated.
Dr Osunade said the artificial intelligence (AI) mobile application, still in its sponsored phase, will be free and available to be accessed on the Google playstore in the next 18 months just as further studies on it are underway to find how useful women find the app.
According to Dr Imran Morhason-Bello, gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a type of diabetes that occurs only in pregnancy and it is diagnosed with repeat elevated blood glucose readings.
Dr Morhason-Bello stated that diabetes in pregnancy accounts for 3 to 5 per cent of antenatal presentations worldwide, causing health problems in both the pregnant mother and her unborn child. During pregnancy, uncontrolled GDM is associated with birth defects, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, babies with large birth weight, preterm birth, or the likelihood of needing a C-section during childbirth.
He stated that some risk factors associated with developing GDM include: being overweight or obese, high blood pressure, a family history of type 2 diabetes, hormone disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and previous history of an unexplained stillbirth or miscarriage and old age at getting pregnant.
The expert added that gestational diabetes can be managed with close blood sugar monitoring, exercise, lifestyle changes, and in some cases, medication.