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Controlling weight in gestational diabetes can improve health

By Editor
15th March 2018
Paediatrics, Pregnancy Research

Controlling weight gain in women with gestational diabetes can improve the health of the baby and ensure a safer pregnancy, according to preliminary research findings.

Dr Claire Meek, a researcher from the University of Cambridge, says the results from her small study are “very exciting” because it shows women they have the opportunity to improve their health, even at the later stages of pregnancy.

Speaking at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference, she said: “Blood sugar levels after pregnancy were better in women who kept their weight stable even in that eight to 10-week period.

“These findings, although preliminary, are very exciting because they suggest that there’s an opportunity for women to improve their health during pregnancy, there’s an opportunity for women to have healthier and safer pregnancies and healthier babies if they keep their weight stable after diagnosis.”

She said the findings also sent a very clear message to women that even with a gestational diabetes diagnosis they can still have a “healthier, safer pregnancy and a healthier baby if they avoid excessive weight gain throughout pregnancy and keep the weight nice and stable”.

She added: ” I think it’s a really empowering message to say that actually that what you do matters, in regard to their weight.”

Ms Meek confirmed she has been given further funding so she can now conduct a larger study involving 500 women across four years to further explore weight control during gestational diabetes.

She said: “There are several unanswered questions, such as exactly what weight targets should we be using in early pregnancy and in late pregnancy and other issues such as how many calories should the women be eating in order to retain these targets.

“Diabetes UK has recently given me funding in order to answer some of these questions so I will shortly be launching a study called DIGEST, a Dietary Intervention on Gestational Diabetes, in order to look at much more detail about weight changes and  dietary change throughout the course of pregnancy in women with gestational diabetes.”

The study details are still at the planning stages, but it is hoped recruitment will involve four sites across East Anglia, finding women who have developed the condition at diagnosis point, which is 28 weeks. Those involved will be sent food boxes every week, although they will not be told how many calories they will be consuming, although the diet will be tailored for women with gestational diabetes.

Ms Meek said: “The aim is to test different calorie quantities and see essenrtially what happens to weight in the latter part of the pregnancy and see what happens to the mums and babies afterwards.

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