The rate of gestational diabetes in Australia has tripled over the past decade.
There are several known contributing factors, including maternal age and obesity, but gestational diabetes is also increasing in pregnant women outside of these at-risk groups.
Recent evidence points to an association between folic acid and gestational diabetes, which has been on the rise since the Australian government mandated folic acid food fortification in 2009.
Dr Tanja Jankovic-Karasoulos has received a Flinders Foundation Health Seed Grant to investigate how folic acid affects the function of the placenta, an organ that is unique to pregnancy and which acts as a key regulator of maternal glucose tolerance in pregnancy.
“This project will be the first study into the response of placental hormones that govern glucose tolerance to folic acid,” Dr Jankovic-Karasoulos said.
“These novel studies are part of a larger study investigating the causes behind the Australian rise in gestational diabetes over the past decade, which have the potential to identify new diagnostic and therapeutic targets for gestational diabetes.
“The identification of women at risk of gestational diabetes early in pregnancy prior to the rise in glucose would protect the fetus from adverse effects of weeks of hyperglycaemia, and provide a foundation for a healthy start to life for children affected by gestational diabetes. “
Research category: Biomedical
Project title: Human placental endocrine responses to folic acid
Lead researcher: Dr Tanja Jankovic-Karasoulos
Flinders Foundation acknowledges the Kaurna people as the traditional custodians of the land on which the Flinders precinct was established. We acknowledge the Kaurna people’s deep and ongoing connection to land, waters and community, and pay our respect to their Elders, past and present.