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Observational study of pregnancy hyperglycaemia, endocrine causes, lipids, insulin and autoimmunity
The aim of the OPHELIA study is to help explain why some women develop high blood sugar (glucose) levels in pregnancy.
Gestational diabetes (GDM) affects approximately 35,000 pregnancies in the UK every year and is associated with pregnancy complications affecting both mother and child. Although most cases of GDM are thought to occur due to pregnancy-hormone-induced insulin resistance, other processes may also contribute. For example, there is likely to be some women who have autoimmune involvement, pre-pregnancy insulin resistance, insulin insufficiency and altered pregnancy hormone concentrations which may contribute to the disease process. In addition, a minority of women diagnosed with GDM will be actively developing early type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and these women are likely to have greater pregnancy-related risks.
The aim of this study is to identify pathophysiological differences in women with GDM by measuring autoantibodies, insulin and hormone concentrations, and to assess how these differences might affect pregnancy outcomes. Women will be invited to participate after they are referred for glucose testing in pregnancy with an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and will have extra blood taken for research purposes during their visit. Data from biochemistry and obstetric databases will be linked and analysed anonymously to assess the effects upon pregnancy outcomes.
The OPHELIA study was approved by the research ethics committee and the health research authority (IRAS 238504; REC 18/LO/0477).
OPHELIA has been a really popular study and we have recruited around 1300 women from 2019 to 2023. The study closed to recruitment in March 2023, and we are now in the process of analysing the data.
Thank you very much to mothers, babies and hospital teams from the following sites who have already made a huge contribution to the success of OPHELIA:
Peterborough City Hospital
Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital
Queen Charlotte's Hospital
Lister Hospital, Stevenage
OPHELIA data was used to help support the development of the Covid-19 diagnostic guidelines for the diagnosis of gestational diabetes during the pandemic. This very important work has enabled gestational diabetes diagnosis to continue (albeit in reduced form) during the pandemic despite the huge challenges to offering face-to-face healthcare.
Data from the OPHELIA study was presented at:
The ATTD conference, 2021
Diabetes UK annual professional conference, 2021
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