Healthy living study aims to cut diabetes in mums-to-be
IRISH maternity services could save €4.35m a year if an innovative healthy living programme during pregnancy proves successful.
The study is being conducted at The Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital and aims to prove that gestational diabetes in obese women can be prevented through a healthy living programme.
It is the first of its type in Ireland and will measure the impact of exercise and diet changes on the blood-sugar levels of pregnant women who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more.
Gestational diabetes, caused when the mother's body is not able to produce enough insulin, occurs in almost 3pc of all pregnancies but rises to 17.5pc where expectant mothers are obese. Obesity is one of the most significant risk factors for the condition and the only one that can be modified.
Dr Niamh Daly, who is carrying out the research, said the long-term health implications were far reaching for both mother and child.
"We know from previous research that women who develop gestational diabetes are more likely to require medical treatment and intervention such as induction of labour or delivery by caesarean section and that they are seven times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes in later life.
"Foetal complications can also occur and, as the baby grows up, he or she is at greater risk of becoming obese or developing type 2 diabetes," said Dr Daly.
The cost of caring for women with gestational diabetes is 50pc higher than women with uncomplicated pregnancies.
"Eradicating gestational diabetes could save the health service almost €2,100 per prevented case."
Researchers are seeking 360 women in the early stages of pregnancy to take part in the trial. Those who wish to take part can contact Dr Daly at email@example.com.