Giving babies the best chance of good health

Dr Sarah Price has established an Obstetric Medicine Research Group at the Women's
1 November 2022 | Research and clinical trials

Like any other woman preparing for childbirth, patients with diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure want to give their children the best chance in life.

The inaugural Director of Obstetric Medicine at the Women’s and Frances Perry House, Dr Sarah Price, said while women are commonly advised to maintain a good diet and exercise, there is not a lot of evidence that this improves pregnancy outcomes for women with complex health issues.

“I think we give these glib throwaway lines to women when they’re really seeking evidence-based advice,” Dr Price said.

“Many of these women have had a lifelong battle with diabetes or obesity and they want to prevent that happening to their children,” she said.

“We know that babies who are born big, or who are born to women who had diabetes during pregnancy, start to show some features of being overweight and can have abnormal glucose levels or high blood pressure, before they get to school age.

“And there is evidence that you can potentially prevent children being born with a pre-disposition to metabolic disease.”

Dr Price started at the Women’s in September 2021 and has since established our Obstetric Medicine Research Group. Her primary research interest is in the intergenerational impact of maternal metabolic disease.

She trained in adult endocrinology “because there was not a path for obstetric medicine” and in 2019, completed her PhD: ‘Health consequences of substantial preconception weight loss in women with obesity’.

“There is little doubt that the needs of women entering pregnancy are becoming increasingly complex.

“Maternal age is increasing. Body weight is increasing. Medication burden is increasing.

“The interesting thing about my PhD was that when women managed to achieve a significant amount of weight loss prior to pregnancy, their pregnancy outcomes did improve - although it was only a small group of women.”

Obstetric Medicine is an emerging field and the role of research in the area is to provide evidence to demonstrate what women can do to improve the outlook for their children, Dr Price said.

Her current Continuous Glucose Monitoring in Obesity (COSY) study utilises novel technology to explore how glucose metrics change in non-diabetic women with obesity over the course of a pregnancy. In a future study, she will use large datasets to phenotype the women most likely to have ‘metabolicallyprone’ offspring, to ensure targeted preventative care.