New Diabetes Research Will Help Babies; Pioneering Work Undertaken by North Scientists

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae

PIONEERING research by North East scientists is leading the fight to reduce birth defects in babies born to women with diabetes.

Health charity Diabetes UK has given more than pounds 35,000 to fund research at Newcastle University to investigate common problems and risk factors associated with the condition.

Women with diabetes who become pregnant are five times more likely to have a stillborn baby compared with other women. Their babies are also more likely to be affected by congenital defects, such as spina bifida, heart and kidney problems.

Some types of congenital anomalies can also lead to death of the infant or serious long-term health issues, which can require major surgery.

It is well known that good blood glucose control before and during pregnancy can reduce this risk, but little is known about what other preventative measures women can take to limit complications.

A Newcastle University research team led by Dr Ruth Bell has been awarded a 12-month project grant to collate information from unique registers of congenital anomaly and pregnancies in women with diabetes in the North of England.

Dr Bell said: "Pregnancy poses a risk for all women, however there is an increased risk for women with diabetes as having a pregnancy affected by a congenital anomaly is twice as likely to occur.

"It's important that current research is compiled and used to help further our knowledge in this field and, following on from this, we hope our study will also be able to help inform future intervention studies aimed at improving the outcomes of pregnancy for women with diabetes."

It is hoped Dr Bell's team will be able to calculate the risk of common problems and identify what factors increase the risk of congenital anomalies arising in order to best advise and support women with diabetes before and throughout their pregnancy. …