World-first study into diabetes during pregnancy
10 November 2009
A world-first research program across Victoria and South Australia aims to reduce the risk of pregnant women developing diabetes later in their life.
More than 10 per cent of women develop diabetes during their pregnancy and at least half of them will go on to develop Type 2 diabetes within the next 10 years.
The $3.29m project will introduce systems designed to reduce the risk of women developing the disease later in life. These will include creation of a register of women who have developed diabetes during pregnancy and adopting a recall system for them to be tested every two years by their general practitioner for diabetes or risk factors of the disease.
A lifestyle modification program will also be developed to reduce the risk of progressing to Type 2 diabetes.
The project has received nearly $1.3m funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council's Partnership for Better Health Grants scheme, the largest allocation in Victoria.
Professor James Dunbar, Director of the Warrnambool-basedGreater Green Triangle University Department of Rural Health, a partnership between Flinders and Deakin universities, is chief investigator in the project.
Professor Dunbar said it was a unique project as it involved funding and partnership from the Federal Government, Department of Human Services Victoria, SA Health, Diabetes Australia Victoria and Diabetes SA, General Practice Victoria and General Practice SA to build an improved policy for prevention of diabetes in this high risk group.
He said diabetes was the biggest cause of problems during pregnancy and the number of women later contracting the disease was increasing due to lifestyle issues such as obesity and lack of exercise.
Children of mothers who develop diabetes are also at greater risk of developing the disease later in life.
Professor Dunbar said the project was significant as it marked the first time intervention programs had been designed specifically for this high risk group.
"This is a world first and will be a real coup in terms of diabetes prevention worldwide if we're able to make a significant breakthrough.
"It will mean so much for these women if they are able to raise their families without developing diabetes."
Research will be carried out at the Royal Women's Hospital and Western Health in Melbourne and Lyell McEwin Hospital in Adelaide.
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