New study targets gestational diabetes

New study targets gestational diabetes

Expectant mothers who struggle with their weight can volunteer for a new study to investigate the effects of probiotics on preventing gestational diabetes.

Mater Researcher Professor David McIntyre said the world-first study, being run at Mater Mothers’ Hospitals and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, would involve more than 500 patients over two years.

“Gestational diabetes is a common complication of pregnancy, especially in women who are overweight or obese prior to conceiving,” Prof McIntyre said.

“At Mater Mothers’ 10 to 13 per cent of our maternity patients—about 1000 women a year—are treated for gestational diabetes.

“We have a good treatment program for them but we’d rather prevent them from developing gestational diabetes in the first place.”

Gestational diabetes is caused when the mother’s body does not have enough insulin to remove the sugars from the blood causing high blood sugar levels.

Complications can include heavier babies with more body fat, complications in delivery and an increased risk of both mother and baby developing diabetes later in life.

“Ideally, we would like to find a treatment to prevent diabetes in pregnancy because at the moment there is no known way of preventing this disease,” Prof McIntyre said.

Gestational diabetes is currently treated with a modified diet or with insulin to keep the blood sugar levels normal.

Dr McIntyre said a recent study from Finland found that pregnant women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of under 25 who were given probiotics recorded an improvement in their blood sugar levels.

“Sixty-two per cent fewer women receiving the probiotics developed diabetes in pregnancy than in the control group,” he said.

“We want to see if the probiotics have the same effect on blood sugar levels in pregnant women with a BMI of 25.0 or more in Australia.

“The results may give us a safe, easy and cheap way of preventing gestational diabetes and minimising the effects it has on mother and baby."

For more information about the trial or to see if you are suitable, please contact Clinical Research Coordinator Anne Tremellen on 07 3163 6312 or


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