Diabetes is a condition that affects the body’s ability to control levels of glucose in the blood. Gestational simply means 'relating to pregnancy' – so gestational diabetes is when a woman stops being able to control her blood sugar during pregnancy. This normally means that she isn’t making enough insulin, the hormone that moves glucose from the blood into the cells, where it is used to make energy. This form of diabetes affects 5-8% of pregnant women, and this is increasing along with obesity. Usually, this form of diabetes disappears after the baby is born.
Gestational diabetes can make it more likely for women to suffer from pre-eclampsia, premature birth and give birth to larger-than-normal babies. Obesity can increase the likelihood of gestational diabetes, but it is still not well understood why some women develop it and others don’t.
That’s why Tommy’s is researching how and why gestational diabetes happens, so we can make sure as many women as possible have safe, uncomplicated pregnancies. Where women do develop diabetes, we are finding most effective ways to treat them so that their babies have the best chance at health.
- We found that there are no harmful effects from using metformin, a drug widely used to control diabetes in pregnancy
- We have found that blood samples from obese women who go on to develop diabetes during pregnancy are significantly different to women who don’t, giving us important clues about why only some women get diabetes
- We found that when diabetes was found and treated early, obese women gained less fat during pregnancy, and lost their baby weight more easily after birth
All research on gestational diabetes
- NHS Choices (accessed January 2017) http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gestational-diabetes/Pages/Introduction.aspx#complications