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Mums-to-be sought for €4m study on diabetes

PREGNANT women are being recruited by Irish medics for a €4m trial which hopes to develop effective measures to stop diabetes in pregnancy.

Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) occurs in almost one in eight pregnancies and carries increased risks for both mother and baby, says consultant endocrinologist and head of the school of medicine at NUI Galway, Prof Fidelma Dunne.

The Irish mothers will be joining a study which includes more than 800 pregnant women from 11 EU countries.

"This pan-European study will help inform us of the best strategy to prevent GDM and in doing so also prevent diabetes long-term in mother and infant," says Prof Dunne.

The women in the study will receive either vitamin D or a diet or lifestyle programme.

The lifestyle programme will include physical activity under a coach or a combination of diet and exercise.

The trial hopes to find out whether any or all of these interventions prevent GDM.

Vitamin D deficiency is more common in overweight and obese women and is associated with insulin resistance which is a precursor of GDM.

Women who are less than 12 weeks pregnant, who are overweight and due to give birth at Galway University Hospitals are invited to take part in the study.

All of the mothers will be followed from 12 weeks of pregnancy until the delivery of their babies under the study which is being coordinated through the Health Research Board clinical research facility at NUI Galway.

Complications from GDM include oversized babies, birth trauma and even the death of the baby in the womb.


The baby can also be born with low blood sugar, difficulty breathing and jaundice. The risks to the mother include increased possibility of caesarean delivery, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia.

Prof Dunne said: "GDM therefore, is a significant public health concern for women and their babies in Ireland.

"While diabetes is traditionally associated with sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet, the currently observed growth in developed countries is greater than expected from lifestyle changes alone."

The project is funded by a European grant totalling €4m.