This research project is ongoing
Why do we need this research?
Diabetes diagnosed during pregnancy is known as gestational diabetes. It can increase the risk of pre-eclampsia, large babies and problems like obstructed labour, where the baby is not able to leave the womb during birth. Gestational diabetes is also becoming more common, making it even more important that we find ways to treat it.
What’s happening in this project?
There is growing evidence that the contents of our guts can influence the risk of diseases, including diabetes. This includes both chemicals produced by our own bodies, and bacteria that live in our guts. Certain substances in the gut can make the body release hormones, and in turn changes the way the body reacts to things like sugar and cholesterol. These gut hormones may also affect the risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy.
In this study, our researchers will ask pregnant women with diabetes to eat a special diet, designed by a dietician, for one day. During the day, the team will take timed blood samples to measure gut hormones released into the blood. They will also collect stool samples to look at the bacteria and chemicals in the gut that might be causing the release of these hormones.
The team want to see if they can change which hormones are released into the gut, and if this could treat gestational diabetes. To find out the best way of doing this, the team will give women either metformin, a drug currently used to treat gestational diabetes, or UDCA, a drug which is currently used to treat intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. Our researchers have already found that UDCA could be more effective than metformin in treating gestational diabetes, and that this might be because of how UDCA is processed in the gut.
What difference will this project make?
The results of this research will help us to find safe, effective ways of controlling diabetes during pregnancy. This means we can help more women to have healthy babies without complications.
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Tommy’s funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for pregnancy complications and loss. We can keep you updated on our research news. If you're interested in being kept updated about our research and news from Tommy's, click here.
More research projects
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In this Q&A, we sit down and chat with with Tom Willmott, a researcher based at Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre in Manchester. He gives a rare insight into a novel and exciting area of pregnancy health research, known as ‘maternal microbiology’, looking at what we can learn by studying bacteria in the mouths of mums-to-be.
A recently published article, co-authored by Professor Catherine Williamson from Tommy’s Research Centre at King’s College London, suggests that certain pregnancy complications can indicate future health issues for women.
Tommy’s has received a grant from the UK Government’s Department for Health and Social Care to support the costs of its PregnancyHub information and support services throughout the summer, due to rising demand in the wake of coronavirus.