Women with Type 1 diabetes have a higher risk of having large babies, which can lead to complications during pregnancy. Dr Stewart wants to explore how chemicals involved in metabolism during pregnancy may be linked to this risk.
This could help to improve the management of Type 1 diabetes during pregnancy, and improve the health of pregnant women with Type 1 and their children.
Background to research
In women with Type 1 diabetes, babies can grow too large during pregnancy, which can lead to complications during childbirth and for the child in later life. This has traditionally been thought to be due to blood glucose levels being more difficult to control during pregnancy.
But recent research has found that even in women with safe blood glucose levels, larger babies are still common. Dr Stewart wants to understand why this might happen, by exploring other factors that could contribute to this risk.
Dr Stewart aims to study the chemicals involved in metabolism (known as metabolome) in pregnant women with Type 1 diabetes.
The researchers will analyse blood samples collected in early and late pregnancy, along with samples collected from the umbilical cord. From this, Dr Stewart hopes to understand how changes to the metabolome across the course of pregnancy relate to the growth and size of babies.
Dr Stewart and her team will also look at whether different Type 1 treatment options (insulin pumps, insulin injections and continuous glucose monitoring) are linked to changes in the metabolome.
Potential benefit to people with diabetes
Until now, trying to keep blood glucose levels under tight control, which can be difficult during pregnancy, has been used to reduce the risk of having a larger baby.
Understanding others factors that add to this risk could help to develop more effective ways to manage Type 1 diabetes in pregnancy and reduce the number of larger babies.