Savefor later Page saved! You can go back to this later in your Diabetes and Me Close

Safer pregnancies after weight loss surgery

Project summary

Weight loss surgery can be a really effective way to lose weight and treat type 2 diabetes. But we don’t understand much about the impact of surgery on pregnancy. Professor Tricia Tan wants to figure out if one particular type of weight loss surgery is linked to a smoother pregnancy and birth. She’ll also look for better ways of diagnosing gestational diabetes in women who’ve had weight loss surgery. The findings could lead to safer pregnancies in women living with obesity, type 2 or gestational diabetes and healthier babies.

Background to research

Weight loss, or bariatric, surgery is sometimes offered as a treatment to people with type 2 diabetes and obesity to help them lose weight, put type 2 into remission or improve blood sugar levels. 

There are different types of weight loss surgery. A gastric bypass involves inserting a small pouch at the top of the stomach to re-route food and help you feel fuller sooner. A sleeve gastrectomy is where a part of the stomach is removed, so it’s much smaller than before and you’ll need to eat less to feel full. 

Research has shown that women who become pregnant after having weight loss surgery can be more at risk of problems, including having premature and smaller babies. Now Professor Tricia Tan wants to find out which type of weight loss surgery is linked to better outcomes for both mum and baby.  

Professor Tan has also found out that weight loss surgery can cause bigger fluctuations in pregnant women’s blood sugar levels. This means that the standard NHS test to screen for gestational diabetes (a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy) isn’t suitable for them and may give misleading results. She therefore wants to look for a better way to screen for gestational diabetes after weight loss surgery.  

Research aims

Prof Tan and her team will recruit 100 pregnant women who’ve had either a gastric bypass or a sleeve gastrectomy. They’ll meet up with them every three months during their pregnancy, at birth, and three months afterwards. 

During the visits, they’ll measure the women’s weight, blood sugar levels with a continuous glucose monitor, vitamin and mineral levels, and do an ultrasound to check the size of the baby. They’ll also collect information about the birth, including the baby’s weight, and when and how it was born.  

They’ll then weigh up all the pros and cons of each type of weight loss surgery, and see which one may be better for pregnant women. They'll also see if any of the data they collected in the first step could be used to spot signs of gestational diabetes. 

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

The team’s insights could help women to choose which weight loss surgery is right for them if they’re planning to have a baby. They could also help to find a better way to test for gestational diabetes. All this together could help mums and babies to have the best possible outcomes during pregnancy and birth. 

Back to Top
Brand Icons/Telephonecheck - FontAwesomeicons/tickicons/uk