Researcher spotlight: Professor Deborah Davis

Gestational diabetes is increasing in prevalence around the world. According to the International Diabetes Federation, globally 1 in 7 births is affected by gestational diabetes. Diabetes Australia Research Program recipient Professor Deborah Davis has developed an app, Eating4Two, to help women achieve healthy weight gain during pregnancy.

Professor Deborah Davis, based in Canberra, received the ACT General Grant last year to expand the evaluation and testing for the app. As a midwife for over 25 years, Professor Davis has seen the growth of gestational diabetes in the community and women struggling with weight during pregnancy.

“Most of the advice women receive about diet in pregnancy focuses on food safety. They don’t necessarily get consistent advice about good nutrition or healthy weight gain. As a result, a lot of women gain too much weight in pregnancy and this can be difficult to lose once they have had their baby” said Professor Davis.

“Research shows that many maternity care providers avoid discussing weight gain with women and that women interpret this silence as confirmation that weight gain is not important. The app doesn’t aim to replace expert advice but to encourage discussion.”

Along with providing information about healthy eating in pregnancy, the Eating4Two app allows pregnant women to chart their weight gain and to see how they are trending against gestational weight gain recommendations from the Institute of Medicine (endorsed by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists). The app is a preventative tool for obesity and gestational diabetes and is aimed at women of all BMI categories who do not have diabetes.

It is still in the pilot stage however, thanks to funding by the Diabetes Australia Research Program, it will be available on iTunes and Google Play.

“The funding has been hugely important, we have been able to develop the app across both iOS and Android platforms, increase the functionality and fine tune the app for a full clinical trial. We want to know whether women using the app are better able to achieve a healthy weight gain in pregnancy” Professor Davis said.

The app was developed by a team of midwives, public health researchers, psychologists, dietitians, technical support and consumers. Stay tuned for when the app is released to the public.

Pregnancy resources for women living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are available on the NDSS website www.ndss.com.au/diabetes-and-pregnancy

Written by:

Diabetes Australia