Preventing diabetes in pregnancy: targeting treatment to women who are most at risk

Finding out whether early intervention can help prevent gestational diabetes in women most at risk.

Start: September 2019

End: August 2020

You are more likely to develop diabetes in pregnancy – known as gestational diabetes – if you are obese. All obese pregnant women are tested for gestational diabetes when they are 24 to 28 weeks pregnant, but by this stage, some of the effects of diabetes may have already occurred meaning that treatment can be less effective.

Treating women at higher risk of gestational diabetes

Attempts to prevent gestational diabetes by giving diet and exercise advice or medication early in pregnancy have not worked. However, we now know that some obese pregnant women are more likely to develop gestational diabetes than others, and so we want to see whether early treatment or advice can prevent gestational diabetes in these particularly high-risk women.

Predicting diabetes with a simple tool

To do this, we will use a simple tool that was developed as part of the UPBEAT study  to find 75 high-risk women to take part in our latest research. The tool uses the results of a blood test, along with age, blood pressure and upper arm circumference, to predict which obese pregnant women are most likely to develop gestational diabetes.

Diet alone, diet + metformin or no treatment

Women in our study will be given either dietary advice, dietary advice plus the anti-diabetic drug metformin, or no treatment, and we will find out how effective each option is at preventing gestational diabetes.

We believe that early preventative treatment will work better in women who know they have an increased risk of developing gestational diabetes, as these women have more of an incentive to change their diet or take tablets. We hope our study will confirm this hypothesis.

Join the fight for healthy pregnancies and babies

Tommy's funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, and fighting to make pregnancy and birth safer. We can keep you updated on ways you can support our work. If you would like to join our fight, click here.

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