Research aims to change the lives of pregnant women with diabetes – by Dr Jenny Myers
Pregnancy is a life-changing event for any woman, but being pregnant when you have diabetes carries its own set of challenges.
Our researcher, Dr Jenny Myers explains how her Diabetes UK-funded research is aiming to improve pregnancy care for women with diabetes in the future.
Why we’re researching diabetes and pregnancy
Most women with diabetes have a healthy baby. But having diabetes means that you and your baby are more at risk of serious health complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
One of these complications is when the baby doesn’t grow at the usual rate. If the baby doesn’t grow enough in the womb, it could lead to a premature delivery and longer-term health problems for the child. If the baby grows too big, there may be added complications during the birth and an increased need for a caesarean section.
Our research focuses on improving how we measure how the baby grows and finding better ways to keep a close eye on this. If we can identify problems at an earlier stage, we could better predict the growth of the baby and any birth complications that might be expected. This could help women with diabetes to have healthy pregnancies and births.
Watching how babies grow
We’ve previously shown that measuring a baby’s thigh during pregnancy, using a 3D ultrasound, is a reliable method to predict how the baby will grow.
We believe that by using this method, we could identify any changes in the baby’s growth earlier and more accurately than using standard ultrasound techniques.
We’re also measuring women’s blood sugar levels, using continuous glucose monitors, at different points during their pregnancy. This will help us to better understand the link between blood glucose control and the growth of babies in the womb.
Future plans and hopes
Next, we plan to invite women involved in this research to help us test new treatments and therapies, designed to support expectant mums to better manage their blood sugar levels at the most critical points during their pregnancy. This would allow us to offer more effective care and treatments to mothers when they most need it most.
I believe that our research will help to change the way we care for women with diabetes who are starting a family. By improving the accuracy of growth measurements during pregnancy, and understanding the relationship with blood glucose levels, we have the opportunity to make a huge difference to the health of both mum and baby. I want to see more and more women with diabetes have a pregnancy that is like any other woman’s.
Research like this is helping us create a world where diabetes can do no harm
But our scientists across the UK aren’t finished. And it’s only with your help that we can push ahead with ground-breaking research. Will you donate today and help us lead the fight against diabetes?