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Women's Health

Obstetric research

Recently completed studies

Abdominal fat and risk of developing gestational diabetes mellitus

There are two layers of abdominal fat: belly fat closer to the skin (the kind we can pinch); and deeper fat that surrounds the organs.

We led a research study that examined 500 women throughout their pregnancy. We found that women who had higher amounts of belly fat and fat around organs in early pregnancy, had a greater risk of developing high blood sugar and gestational diabetes later in pregnancy. Learn more about this study.

Texting women about influenza

The flu vaccine is recommended in pregnancy. Despite recommendations from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada, there continues to be a low uptake of influenza vaccination among pregnant women. St. Michael’s led a research study examining whether text message reminders would increase influenza vaccination among 317 pregnant women. Pregnant women were randomized to either receive or not receive weekly text messages. Women were later contacted to determine if they had received the vaccine. We found that weekly text messages reinforcing the recommendation for and safety of the influenza vaccine in pregnancy did not increase the likelihood of actually receiving the vaccine among pregnant women. Overall vaccination rates were low, highlighting the need for more patient education and innovative techniques to improve vaccine acceptance. Learn more about this study.

Folic acid supplementation in pregnancy

In pregnancy, women need to take folic acid. In fact, public health guidelines recommend supplementation among all women of reproductive age. Together these requirements have led to increased folic acid intake in pregnant women in North America. However, the effects of this increased folic acid intake during pregnancy are unknown. We studied 368 pregnant women in early and late pregnancy to measure their blood samples for folic acid. We found that unused folic acid concentrations were higher than previously reported values. Therefore future research is needed to learn about the long term health outcomes of high folic acid concentrations and the effect of unused folic acid concentrations on the baby. Learn more about this study.