Campbelltown study into gestational diabetes a world-first

Happy to help: Jordanna Moroney is 6 months pregnant. She is taking part in a study to combat the effects of gestational diabetes. Picture: Chris Lane
Happy to help: Jordanna Moroney is 6 months pregnant. She is taking part in a study to combat the effects of gestational diabetes. Picture: Chris Lane

Campbelltown doctors are leading a world-first study into gestational diabetes to prevent still-births and malformed babies.

The Western Sydney University study led by Professor David Simmons aims to better manage and understand the long-term health impacts of the disease on babies and mothers. 

Professor Simmons said gestational diabetes is the fastest growing type of diabetes in Australia.

“We’re very keen to hear from people who wish to take part in the study,” he said.

“The aim of the research is to reduce the number of malformations in children.

“It’s something all women across the world should have access to and the women of south-west Sydney already do.”

Diabetes can be linked to birth malformations including holes in the heart and blood vessels forming in the wrong place.

“These are pretty terrible things and often require surgery,” Professor Simmons said.

“The average lifetime cost of these malformations is $1 million – not to mention the long-term health effects.

“Malformations often happen in the first eight weeks and once that time is up they are completely irreversible.”

Leumeah resident and study participant Jordana Moroney was diagnosed with gestational diabetes early in her pregnancy.

“I am six months pregnant now and I have been able to manage it with exercise and diet so far,” she said.

“I am glad to be a part of the study.

“The health system has been really supportive of me so if being a part of this study can help someone else I am very happy to be a part of it.”

The study will investigate whether women who are diagnosed with  high blood sugars before 20 weeks’ gestation have better health outcomes than those diagnosed later in their pregnancy.

Professor Simmons said the study would provide vital insights into the impact of such early intervention.

A second study, also co-authored by Professor Simmons and published in Current Diabetes Report, delves into the connection between ethnicity and gestational diabetes.

“I have seen first-hand the devastating effects that poorly prepared pre-existing diabetes can have during pregnancy on women and children,” he said,

“This condition demands the best of our research, resources and collaborative efforts – a combination which will no doubt result in better health outcomes.

“This research will help us better understanding diabetes and in turn, better manage the condition.”

To find out more about taking part in the diabetes program, visit: www.westernsydney.edu.au/domtru/projects/dcapp.