Generous funding provided through the Douglas and Lola Douglas scholarship is strengthening evidence around the long term impacts on children born to mothers with obesity and gestational diabetes.
Endocrinologist and Kolling Institute researcher Dr Tessa Weir has been able to continue her valuable research as a result of being awarded the scholarship.
“I am incredibly grateful for the support provided through the Douglas and Lola Douglas scholarship,” she said.
“It has meant I’ve been able to pursue my postgraduate studies and support improvements in the care of women with obesity and gestational diabetes, and their babies.
“My hope is to fill the gaps in evidence and generate guidelines and policy to extend prenatal and perinatal obstetric care, particularly for women managing these health challenges.
“Our research will involve a systematic review to detail how maternal obesity and gestational diabetes directly affects neonatal outcomes. We will also be using new artificial intelligence techniques to develop a personalised risk predictive tool for perinatal outcomes.
“This will also consider the timing of births, with early births linked to many adverse impacts such as developmental delays.”
Dr Weir said this is such an important field of research, with maternal obesity and gestational diabetes contributing to significant, long-term health challenges for unborn children.
“We know from earlier research by fellow Kolling researchers A/Professor Sarah Glastras and Professor Carol Pollock that these maternal factors can influence foetal programming, and alter an unborn child’s future metabolic risk. This in turn increases the likelihood of ongoing weight issues.
“The prevalence of child and adolescent obesity is increasing, with an alarming 25 per cent of children in Australia over the healthy weight range.
“Childhood obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, diabetes and psychological conditions.
“All of these issues can have a life-long impact, compromising quality and even length of life, so it’s tremendously important we drive research progress in this area and broadly improve the quality of care provided to women and their babies.
“Overall, this scholarship is not only helping me complete my PhD studies, and broaden my experience as a clinician-researcher, it will also hopefully improve the future health of countless children born to women with gestational diabetes and obesity.”