Why do we need this research?
Developing diabetes during pregnancy, known as gestational diabetes, can cause health problems for both mother and baby. We know that a woman’s diet is important during pregnancy, and that it might have a role to play in gestational diabetes.
In many of the foods we eat, there are small amounts of metals like iron, calcium, iodine, magnesium, zinc, and copper. These ‘trace elements’ are important in helping our body function as it should. However, we don’t know enough about their role during pregnancy.
What’s happening in this project?
Researchers funded by Tommy’s are studying whether the presence of metal trace elements are linked with pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes. Previous research has often just looked at one metal element on its own. Our researchers want to look at lots of different trace elements together to create a ‘metallo-profile’ for pregnant women.
The team will use blood samples donated by women who took part in a study called UPBEAT. This trial recruited 1,500 women with obesity, who donated blood samples throughout their pregnancy. Our researchers will study in detail the metal trace elements found in blood samples from early pregnancy (15-18 weeks). By look at a range of metal elements, our scientists will be able to create a metallo-profile of women who later developed diabetes, and compare it to that of women who didn’t. This could make it easier to diagnose gestational diabetes in the future.
What difference will this project make?
This study will identify the role that metal trace elements from food have in gestational diabetes. The results could lead to new methods to diagnose the condition early, or even new ways to treat it. Ultimately, our scientists hope to improve the chances of a healthy pregnancy for mother and baby.
Get our research updates
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
A BBC News investigation has found that some private baby scanning studios are misleading customers by advertising “reassurance” scans that do not diagnose serious conditions and abnormalities.
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.