Study exploring diabetes and pregnancy seeks to improve future maternal health

Posted by: Jamie Sharp - Posted on:

The understanding of diabetes, nutrition and obesity in pregnancy is increasing at pace, thanks to hundreds of women who have chosen to take part in a study being carried out by Leicester’s Professor Claire Meek.

Professor Meek’s DiGest Follow-Up study, which seeks to help prevent pregnant women with gestational diabetes from going on to develop type 2 diabetes is well underway, with 152 mothers and their babies taking part.

The study builds on the ‘DiGest’ study, carried out by Professor Meek and colleagues in Cambridge, in which 425 women took part.

Clodie, who now has baby Florence (age 8 months), took part in the study. She said: “I was really surprised when I was told I had gestational diabetes, and was happy to take part in the study as I knew that the baby and I would be monitored closely.”

Professor Meek explains: “Gestational diabetes affects over 35,000 pregnancies annually in the UK, causing health problems for mother and child, such as large-for-gestational age babies (LGA) and difficult deliveries.

​“With the DiGest study we’ve been assessing the effects of a reduced calorie diet in late pregnancy in women with gestational diabetes.”

Women with gestational diabetes who participated in the study received standard-calorie or reduced-calorie diet boxes containing all of their meals from 30 weeks of pregnancy until they had their baby.

They completed food diaries, questionnaires, continuous glucose monitoring, and weigh-ins which helped the research team to measure compliance, glucose control, weight changes and quality of life.

New mum, Clodie, continued: “I was nervous about following the food plan, but actually found it really straightforward once I’d got started, and the food was amazing.

“Neither me nor Florence have gone on to have any problems luckily, but the fact that they’re carrying out this research is amazing, and I really hope that everything they learn will help mothers and babies in the future.”

The DiGest team are now looking at the data to find out whether the 8-10 week long dietary intervention reduced maternal weight gain and infant standardised birthweight, as well as looking at other outcomes such as maternal and neonatal complications and maternal antenatal and postnatal glucose concentrations.

The DiGest Follow Up study was offered to all women on the main study, and follows the mothers and babies for the next three years. Currently 152 mums and 152 babies are taking part in this study.

*Funded by Diabetes UK, and supported by colleagues at Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie hospitals in Cambridge