Why do we need this research?
Mothers with gestational diabetes have too much sugar in their blood during pregnancy. It is a common problem which can result in problems such as the baby growing too fast in the womb.
We have treatments for gestational diabetes, including changes to diet and drugs like insulin and metformin. However, despite the best efforts of the mother and doctors, babies are still sometimes born too large. We need to better understand how the amount of sugar in the blood is controlled during pregnancy, and how this sugar is transferred to the baby.
What’s happening in this project?
In this project, researchers funded by Tommy’s are studying how blood sugar levels change during early pregnancy and how the placenta might be involved in controlling them. The team will recruit women with and without gestational diabetes to their study, and monitor blood sugar levels in detail to understand how they change during the day.
The team will also study the placenta in pregnant women using medical scans, and study samples of placenta in the lab donated by women after they have given birth. This will help them to understand how sugar is transferred from mother to baby, and how this might lead to babies growing too fast.
What difference will this project make?
Our researchers hope that their project will shed more light on how sugar levels can be controlled during gestational diabetes. This could ensure that doctors know how and when to intervene to treat the condition and reduce the chance of complications for mother and baby.
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Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for pregnancy complications and loss. If you're interested in being kept updated about our research and news from Tommy's, click here.
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.
Although recruitment to some clinical trials had to be paused when coronavirus hit the UK, scientists at Tommy’s Research Centres across the UK are still hard at work, supporting women and families in our specialist clinics and sharing their latest studies with academic journals.