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25 million grant to a new research project is going to help pregnant women with diabetes and their children

The risk of complications such as preeclampsia, malformations and overweight is increased during pregnancy among women with diabetes. A research group led by Professor Dorte Møller Jensen from Steno Diabetes Center Odense will use the 25 million DKK grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation to establish a unique nationwide cohort of pregnancies including all pregnant women in Denmark.

Diabetes during pregnancy is a serious condition that needs close attention. 

High levels of blood glucose during pregnancy can affect the health of both mother and child, ranging from maternal risks such as high blood pressure and damaged retina to fetal and neonatal risks such as malformations, accelerated fetal growth and long-term impacts of the offspring health such as increased risk of developing insulin resistance and obesity. 

The objective of a new study led by Professor Dorte Møller Jensen from Steno Diabetes Center Odense (SDCO) is to improve the treatment of women with pre-existing diabetes, to develop easy to use patient centered educational material and to even out regional treatment differences. Dorte Møller Jensen and her research collaborators from the other four Danish Steno Diabetes Centers and Rigshospitalet will, for the next five years, be establishing a birth registry including data on all Danish pregnant women with diabetes, their children and partners.

- Overall, we wish to improve the health for pregnant women with diabetes and their children. Unfortunately, we know that about 50 % of pregnancies are unplanned, and that 30-40 % give birth to infants that are large for gestational age. This new birth registry will give us the opportunity to follow the women and their children during a number of years and thereby gain knowledge about significant risk factors and how we can improve treatment, says Dorte Møller Jensen.

Rising prevalence of obesity

In the 1990s Danish researchers pioneered with a nation-wide registry on diabetes and its impact on pregnancy, childbirth and the unborn child. A lot has happened since then, says Dorte Møller Jensen.

- Diabetes technology has undergone a rapid development, but we still don’t know much about the significance of technology for pregnant women with diabetes on a national level. Since the 90s, the number of people suffering from type 2 diabetes and obesity has increased markedly, which makes the establishment of a new diabetes birth registry even more important. Our group has been collaborating within this area for more than 25 years, so I am convinced that this collaboration will succeed too.

As part of the project, the research group from Copenhagen led by Professor Elisabeth Mathiesen will produce a line of  educational YouTube videos to help women get through a better pregnancy as a supplement to the current treatment.

Pregnancy-related anxiety in women with diabetes

Each Steno Diabetes Center will be working with their respective area within pregnancy and diabetes. Steno Diabetes Center Odense will be looking into the mental health among the pregnant women with diabetes.

- Previous studies from Rigshospitalet indicate that 40 % of pregnant women with type 2 diabetes show signs of anxiety and/ or depression during pregnancy. It can be a major stress factor having to take extra precautions to prevent complications for both yourself and your unborn child, states Dorte Møller Jensen.

New knowledge generated by the study will not only benefit Danish pregnant women with diabetes, but potentially also women with diabetes from all over the world.

Sine Knorr Johnson from Steno Diabetes Center Aarhus is responsible for the daily coordination of the Danish diabetes birth registry. The registry will include all relevant data within the area of diabetes and pregnancy and involves a large amount of biological data as well as socio-economic factors, mental health and quality of life.

Every year 400 women with diabetes become pregnant.

About the project

  • Formal title of the project: Improving pregnancy outcome in women with pre-existing diabetes: combining a nationwide Diabetes Birth Registry and an education intervention study
  • The purpose of the project: to establish a national birth registry including data on all Danish pregnant women with diabetes, their children and partners.
  • The data from the birth registry will provide knowledge on how diabetes affects pregnancy and the unborn child and on how to improve the treatment of pregnant women with pre-existing diabetes.
  • The project runs for 5 years. 
  • Being pregnant and having diabetes is associated with an increased risk for both mother and child. Maternal risks such as high blood pressure and damaged retina. Fetal and neonatal risks such as malformations, accelerated fetal growth, and long-term impacts of the offspring health such as increased risk of developing insulin resistance and obesity.
  • An educational intervention, in terms of short YouTube videos, to support the current treatment of pregnant women with diabetes will be developed as part of the project. 
  • Professor Dorte Møller Jensen, Steno Diabetes Center Odense is at the head of the project in collaboration with researchers from the other Danish Steno Diabetes Centers and Rigshospitalet. 
  • The Steno National Collaborative Grant of 25 million DKK from the Novo Nordisk Foundation is granted to research projects that strengthen national collaboration between the five Danish Steno Diabetes Centers.

The project group

Dorte Møller Jensen, Steno Diabetes Center Odense
Sine Knorr Johnsen, Steno Diabetes Center Aarhus
Peter Damm, Center for Pregnant Women with Diabetes, Dept. of Obstetrics, Rigshospitalet
Ulla Opstrup Kampmann, Steno Diabetes Center Aarhus
Elisabeth Mathiesen, Center for Pregnant Women with Diabetes, Dept. of Endocrinology, Rigshospitalet
Christina Anne Vinter, Steno Diabetes Center Odense and Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Odense University Hospital
Lene Ringholm, Center for Pregnant Women with Diabetes, Dept. of Endocrinology, Rigshospitalet
Per Ovesen, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Aarhus University Hospital
Trine Tang Christensen, Steno Diabetes Center Nordjylland
Jeannet Lauenborg, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecolog and Pediatrics, Nykøbing Falster Hospital
Lise Lotte Torvin Andersen, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Odense University Hospital
Anne Nødgaard Sørensen, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Aalborg University Hospital
Tine Dalsgaard Clausen, Dept. of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Nordsjællands Hospital
Allan Kofoed Enevoldsen, Steno Diabetes Center Sjælland
Ulla Bjerre-Christensen, Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen

Dorte Møller Jensen

Professor and Program Manager within SDCO's research area Pregnancy and Diabetes

Contact information

Editing was completed: 10.01.2022