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July 2009 Issue

UC researcher Debra Krummel, PhD, is leading a clinical trial to study the effects of an omega-3 fatty acid supplement in pregnant women.
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Supplement May Reduce Gestational Diabetes Risk

By Katy Cosse
Published July 2009

Women who enter pregnancy with a higher body weight face serious risks: higher rates of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and the risk of a larger baby who could go on to have obesity, diabetes and heart disease in the future.

But a nutritional supplement, already shown to benefit fetal brain and vasculature development, could reduce those risks in both mother and child.

Thatís why Debra Krummel, PhD, of UCís department of nutritional sciences, is launching a local, two-year clinical trial to study the effects of the supplement in pregnant women.

Krummel believes the nutrient, omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), can lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity in pregnant women.

She says DHA has proven benefits, but most women do not get an adequate amount of it in their diet.

ďItís already been shown to be safe and good for the brain, but weíre studying whether it might have another benefit, which is improving insulin resistance,Ē she says.

National health officials are recognizing the risks associated with obesity during pregnancy.

This year, the Institute of Medicine and the National Re-search Council revised their gestational weight gain guidelines for the first time since 1990, lowering the recommended levels of weight gain for women entering pregnancy with a higher body weight.

But Krummel says those guidelines donít help women right now.

ďWe have to find a way to help these women once theyíre already pregnant, and thatís what this supplement is about,Ē she says.  ďIf this supplement can improve insulin sensitivity and markers of inflammation in pregnant women, itís a huge clinical benefit. Itís already good for the baby but if it can have this other benefit, itís huge.Ē

Support for the trial will come from the Office of Research on Womenís Health, the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, with additional support provided by Mead Johnson and Martek Biosciences Corporation.

For more information about the study or to inquire about participating in the study, visit pregnancystudy.

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