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Developing better ways to watch babies grow during pregnancy

Project summary

VELOCITY: Evaluating Fetal Growth in Pregnancies Complicated by Pre-Existing Diabetes

Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes in women is linked to babies growing smaller or larger than usual during pregnancy, which can lead to dangerous complications. Dr Myers wants to develop a more accurate way to monitor a baby’s growth during pregnancy, so that any changes can be found earlier on. This could help to prevent complications during pregnancy and improve the long-term health of the babies in the future.

Background to research

In women with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, their babies can grow too small or too large during pregnancy, and this is thought to be linked to the mother’s blood glucose levels. A large or small baby can lead to complications, from premature birth and caesarean sections to unfortunate cases of still birth and traumatic childbirth. Dr Jenny Myers’ team have found that measuring the size of the baby’s thigh during development using a 3D ultrasound can predict their growth. They believe that this method could be used to spot any changes in growth early on and hopefully prevent complications from occurring.

Research aims

Dr Myers will use the new ultrasound technique to measure the impact that a mum’s blood glucose levels have on the growth of their developing baby. They’re inviting pregnant women to a specialist clinic, where they’ll receive their standard antenatal care, alongside 3D ultrasounds and blood tests. The women will wear a continuous glucose monitor on three occasions during their pregnancy, so that information about their blood glucose levels can be collected. The team hope that this study will help healthcare professionals to support mothers at just the right time during a pregnancy to prevent their babies from growing too large or too small – therefore preventing associated complications as well.

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

At Diabetes UK we want to find best ways to support people with diabetes. This project will help us to understand the link between blood glucose levels in the mother and the growth of their baby during pregnancy. This in turn help to provide better support to pregnant women at critical points when their blood glucose control is impacting on the size of their baby. Improving care for women and their babies will, in the long run, help to reduce the number of serious complications still associated with pregnancy in women with diabetes.

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