Looking at the link between thresholds for gestational diabetes and infant health

Cure Kids is supporting the BabyGEMS study, which is investigating the effect of different detection thresholds for gestational diabetes on infant growth, feeding and nutrition. It’s hoped the study will inform future interventions and treatments to lessen the incidence and impacts of obesity in New Zealand.

Dr Chris McKinlay

University of Auckland

New Zealand’s population often stands out when it comes to health statistics, regularly falling behind countries with a similar level of economic and social development. Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) – diabetes that happens during pregnancy – is one such area. Nearly 10 per cent of New Zealand women are affected, which is high compared to similar populations. This can lead to complications at birth and cause ongoing health problems for children, including a tendency to obesity and metabolic disease.

GEMS – investigating the need for lower thresholds

Dr Chris McKinlay and a team from the University of Auckland’s Liggins Institute are investigating whether lower thresholds for diagnosing GDM, recommended internationally, should be introduced in New Zealand. Known as the GEMS study, this work represents the first time that detection thresholds have been rigorously evaluated in a randomised trial.

Lower detection thresholds could reduce the risk of infants being born too large or developing childhood obesity. However the lower thresholds will approximately double the number of women diagnosed and treated for GDM, placing additional burden on maternity healthcare systems, so good evidence of benefits is required before changes are made to thresholds.

BabyGEMS – monitoring infants

BabyGEMS could help to reduce the incidence and impacts of childhood obesity in New Zealand.

An offshoot of the larger GEMS study, the BabyGEMS study is investigating the effect of different detection thresholds for GDM on infant growth, feeding and nutrition – factors that are linked to the risk of childhood obesity. It’s hoped the study will inform future interventions and treatments to lessen the incidence and impacts of obesity in New Zealand.

Cure Kids is helping BabyGEMS

Cure Kids funding will extend the size of the current BabyGEMS study and enable close monitoring of infants throughout the first year. All babies will be assessed by measuring body composition, growth, appetite, nutrition and development.