Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 20th 2015 Contents A27
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Disney Pixar want to tell 'more diverse stories'
Disney Pixar chief John Lasseter has
said the company wants to make more
diverse stories about "female and ethnic
"It's very important to us," Lasseter
told reporters at Cannes Film Festival,
where the latest Pixar film Inside Out
has screened out of competition.
"It's grown in importance over time. As
you'll see in future films, we're really
paying attention to that."
He had been asked if Pixar would
make a film with a black protagonist.
Disney first featured a black princess
in 2009's The Princess and the Frog, but
Pixar, which was bought by Disney in
2006, has yet to feature a non-white
"We're trying to reach out and find
origins of legends all over the world,"
revealed Lasseter, pointing to Disney's
2016 film Moana, about a Polynesian
princess, adding: "It's pretty spectacular."
Lasseter said animation was becoming
more diverse behind the scenes too.
"Animation, when we got started, by
and large was mostly guys," said
says it's very
difficult to tell
Taking a look at...
Professor Bharat Bassaw is a senior lecturer in
the Department of Clinical Surgical Sciences,
head of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Unit
at UWI s Faculty of Medical Sciences and consultant at
the Mt Hope Maternity Hospital. He is also the university
examiner for the Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery
(MBBS) and Doctor of Medicine (DM) exams. Bassaw
has done extensive research on gestational diabetes mel-
litus (GDM) and has been making calls for health care
professionals to pay closer attention to the illness which
affects pregnant women and their unborn. Last year,
he staged several lectures at UWI St Augustine on the
topic. In the first of a two-part interview, Bassaw tells
reporter Bobie-Lee Dixon about GDM, its causes risks
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a condition that is first detected
in pregnancy. Usually these pregnant women would not
have been previously diagnosed with diabetes. But during
their pregnancy, they exhibit high blood glucose levels.
This condition carries significant adverse outcomes in
pregnancy for both the mothers and their babies. And
these risks extend in later life.
What causes gestational diabetes?
There are many different reasons. Some of these, I
think, we aren t 100 per cent certain of. But there are
hormonal changes in pregnancy and some of these hor-
mones antagonise the effect of insulin. Insulin is a natural
hormone produced in a gland in the body called the pan-
creas. And the function of insulin is to keep the blood
glucose within a normal range. So these hormonal changes
which occur in pregnant women, in a way, antagonise
the normal effects of insulin, and as a result the person s
blood glucose is elevated. There are many hormones, so
I am sure there are other reasons. We are still not cer-
What are the risks involved?
Before a mother delivers, with diabetes the fetus can
get too large, which in medical terms is known as macro-
somia. So the fetus grows and that has serious implications
in terms of delivery.
Another problem is that the fluid surrounding the
baby---amniotic fluid---becomes excessive. Just as any
adult who has diabetes, that person passes a lot of urine.
So, too, does the fetus. Growing in an environment where
the blood glucose levels are high in the mother, there are
also high blood glucose levels in the fetus, and as a result,
it passes a lot of urine and in the latter part of the preg-
nancy, the main source of amniotic fluid is made up of
Now, because the fetus is producing more urine, one
can just extrapolate that there would be too much fluid.
This excessive fluid in turn causes the uterus to become
overly extended and irritated, resulting at times in preterm
labour, and the delivery of a premature baby. The mother
is also at risk for infection if her water breaks too early.
The fetus or infant of a diabetic mother behaves much
more prematurely when compared to that of a non-
diabetic mother. For instance, the lungs do not mature
as well when there is diabetes, so the fetus is delivered
and often comes out with problems to breathe---one of
the biggest issues we face with these premature babies.
Again, in terms of delivery, because of the size of the
baby, its shoulders get very broad; and so during delivery,
the head may come out but the shoulders get stuck. This
is a big emergency, because the fetus is delivered up to
the head and hence the oxygen supply to the brain is now
being compromised. And you only have a few minutes,
otherwise that baby will die.
On the other hand, if the baby is delivered alive,
then there can be serious damage to the brain.
The mother is also at risk for injuries of the
genital track during such a delivery. Huge tears are very,
very awkward to repair; hemorrhaging can occur. So the
mother is at risk, and the fetus can succumb in labour.
And if the fetus lives, it can have serious problems. Many
of them actually die shortly after, because they sustain
fractures, brain damage or nerve damage.
Now, if everything goes well and the baby is delivered
and lives beyond the birth, because he or she was accus-
tomed to an environment where the blood glucose was
very high, that fetus would be producing a lot of insulin
in order to try to keep his or her blood glucose normal.
When that fetus is delivered, he/she continues to produce
significant amounts of insulin and therefore one of the
problems that baby has, now, is low blood sugar. The
brain is extremely sensitive to glucose. So if there is lack
of glucose to the brain, then that brain is going to undergo
Babies born to diabetic mothers are also more prone
to infections and jaundice.
Can the baby be born with diabetes?
It s not likely at birth. Initially because the baby would
Continues on Page A28
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