A new study, supported by the National Institutes of Health, aims to improve the screening and diagnosis of gestational diabetes through a better understanding of blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes is usually diagnosed between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy, which may be too late to counteract any permanent harm to the pregnant woman and the child.
Changes in glucose metabolism occur during pregnancy–the way glucose, often called blood sugar, is used in the body – to meet the needs of the developing fetus, but the details of these changes are unknown. With locations across the country, the Glycemic Observation and Metabolic Outcomes in Mothers and Offspring (GO MOMs) study aims to fill these knowledge gaps. Around 2,150 people without diabetes and in the first trimester of pregnancy will take part in the study. Funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the NIH, GO MOMs will use continuous glucose monitoring technology to track blood sugar levels during pregnancy.
“GO MOMs will lay the foundation for determining future approaches to screening, diagnosing, and ultimately treating elevated blood sugar levels during pregnancy,” said Dr. Barbara Linder, program director of the NIDDK, the project scientist of the study. “By learning more about glucose levels during pregnancy, we can identify potential early indicators of gestational diabetes and determine the best time to screen and treat it.”
GO MOMs builds on a previous, NIH-funded, groundbreaking study of hyperglycemia and adverse pregnancy outcomes and its follow-up HAPO and HAPO-FUS, which found that people had elevated blood sugar during pregnancy – even if they weren’t high enough to The definition of gestational diabetes – significantly more likely to develop type 2 diabetes or prediabetes years after pregnancy than their non-elevated blood sugar counterparts.
In addition, HAPO-FUS showed that children born to people with elevated blood sugar during pregnancy were more likely to be obese and impaired glucose metabolism a decade later. The effects in children known as metabolic imprinting are thought to appear much earlier during pregnancy than when gestational diabetes is currently being studied.
The data collected by GO MOMs will help determine the timing and approach for future clinical trials to understand when and how to screen and treat for elevated blood sugar during pregnancy and whether that treatment will affect children years later becomes.
“If people are currently being screened for gestational diabetes, it may be too late to avoid the long-lasting health effects,” said Dr. William Lowe, professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, and director of studies for GO mothers. “We hope to recruit a diverse group of GO MOMs attendees to identify important changes during pregnancy and see if there are any associations with a subsequent gestational diabetes diagnosis and large birth size of the offspring.”
Northwestern University is the study coordination center and study site. Further study locations are:
- Columbia University, New York City
- Kaiser Center for Health Research, Honolulu
- Kaiser Center for Health Research NW, Portland, Oregon
- Magee Women’s Hospital, Pittsburgh
- Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
- Tufts Medical Center, Boston
- Rhode Island Women’s and Infant Hospital, Providence
- Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
“GO MOMs will provide precise insights into changes in glucose during pregnancy and provide information on future innovations in diabetes prevention,” said Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers, director of the NIDDK. “This study creates the conditions for healthier generations.”
The study is now open to those in the first trimester of pregnancy without diabetes who are willing to use a continuous blood glucose meter four times for 10 days during pregnancy. To learn more and to sign up, www.GoMomsStudy.org.
The Clinicaltrials.gov identifier for this study is NCT04860336.GO MOMs is funded by the NIDDK through grants U01DK123745, U01DK123759, U01DK123783, U01DK123791, U01DK123795, U01DK123799. Dexcom supplies the continuous glucose monitors.
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