Research Project Recruiting Pregnant Women to Combat Gestational Diabetes

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Vitamin D and Lifestyle Interventions to be Trialled

Pregnant women are currently being recruited into a new NUI Galway-led clinical trial which hopes to develop effective measures to prevent Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM).

Participants will randomly receive either vitamin D or a specific diet or lifestyle intervention, including physical activity by a lifestyle coach or a combination of diet and physical activity. The trial hopes to establish whether any or all of these interventions prevent GDM, which can have serious consequences for mother and baby during the pregnancy and later in life. Vitamin D deficiency is more common in overweight and obese women and is associated with insulin resistance, a precursor of GDM.

Leading Consultant Endocrinologist and Head of School of Medicine NUI Galway, Professor Fidelma Dunne is heading up the research: “Gestational diabetes occurs in 12% of pregnancies and carries with it increased risks for both mother and baby. This pan-European study will help inform us of the best strategy to prevent GDM and in doing so also prevent diabetes long-term in mother and infant.”

The study is being coordinated through the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway. Women who are less than 12 weeks pregnant and are overweight (BMI>29) and who will give birth at Galway University Hospitals are invited to participate on the study. All participants will be followed from 12 weeks of pregnancy until delivery.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is diabetes first diagnosed during pregnancy and is more common in women who are overweight or obese. Possible complications are oversized babies, birth trauma and even intra-uterine death. Neonatal abnormalities can also occur, including low blood sugar, difficulty breathing and jaundice. The maternal risks include an increased risk of caesarean delivery, pregnancy induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia.

Professor Dunne explains: “GDM therefore, is a significant public health concern for women and their babies in Ireland. GDM can also lead to future diabetes in the mother and diabetes and obesity in the offspring. While diabetes is traditionally associated with sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet, the currently observed growth in developed countries is greater than expected from lifestyle changes alone. Evidence is accumulating that GDM is a more important contributor to these epidemics than previously recognised.”

The research is part of a large scale, pan-European research project involving 13 partners from 11 countries, and over 800 pregnant women. The DALI project is funded by a European FP7 grant totalling €4 million.

Those interested in finding out more about the study should contact Professor Fidelma Dunne or Veronica McInerney, Clinical Manager at the Clinical Research Facility, NUI Galway on 091 495964.

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Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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