National Health Service in England is conducting a controversial new trial in which overweight pregnant women are being given a drug that aims to reduce the risk of childhood obesity in their unborn babies.
Doctors are using a drug called metformin, which is traditionally used to treat diabetes. Researchers involved in the study say 15 percent of pregnant women in hospitals in the United Kingdom are obese, and that overweight women supply too much food to growing babies, which can in turn lead to health problems.
A severely overweight pregnant woman can risk her own death and pre-eclampsia as well as stillborn or large babies.
Metformin reduces insulin resistance, according to the BBC, and pregnant women are more resistant to the hormone insulin. The hopeful conclusion of the study is that the drug will reduce the amount of sugar received by the baby from the mother so it’s born at a normal size.
While in an ideal world, women should enter their pregnancies at a health weight, “In reality that’s not going to happen,” said Dr. Ian Campbell, medical director of the charity Weight Concern, to the BBC.
Four hundred women are taking part in the trial in which they will take metformin up to three times a day during their pregnancies. Pregnant women who take it are not expected to lose weight themselves as a result. The drug has already been cleared in the treatment of diabetes in pregnancy.
Big babies are considered to weigh more than 10 pounds.
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