TORONTO - The International Diabetes Federation has released three sets of guidelines for health providers aimed at improving patient care and stemming the growing incidence of the disease worldwide.

The clinical guidelines -- dealing with pregnancy, diabetics' oral health and patient monitoring of blood sugar levels -- were announced Thursday at the World Diabetes Congress in Montreal.

Recent data collected by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) show that more than 285 million people worldwide have diabetes, a figure the organization predicts will soar to 435 million people in the next 20 years.

Health-care professionals must be equipped with the latest improvements and standards in diabetes care to tackle the spiralling epidemic, the IDF says.

The pregnancy guidelines are intended to set a global standard for the care of gestational diabetes and for women who already have diabetes and become pregnant. Gestational diabetes is common and is increasing in frequency around the globe, the organization said.

"This is the first International Diabetes Federation guideline on pregnancy," Dr. Stephen Colagiuri, chair of the IDF task force on clinical guidelines, said in a statement. "It is an important issue for IDF to address because of the growing number of women this now affects worldwide."

IDF also released new guidelines on the self-monitoring of blood glucose in non-insulin treated Type 2 diabetes and oral health for those who have the condition.

"Both these guidelines cover important but often neglected areas of diabetes care," said Colagiuri, a professor of metabolic health at the University of Sydney in Australia.

Diabetics need to be taught to properly care for their teeth and gums because poor oral hygiene is associated with gingivitis, which can progress to more severe infection and inflammation leading to periodontal disease. Inflammation can decrease insulin sensitivity and potentially worsen blood-sugar control.

Up to 95 per cent of diabetics have Type 2 diabetes. The new guidelines recommend that patient monitoring of blood-sugar levels should be an ongoing part of diabetes self-management education.

"These guidelines are just a first step," said Colagiuri. "In addition, IDF co-ordinates workshops worldwide to ensure that care for all people with diabetes is improved regardless of income level or geography."