Could having a snack before bed aid in GDM management?

IHMRI researchers launching new clinical trial for GDM

Dr Monique Francois and Dr Lauren Roach from the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute are seeking trial participants for a study which looks into the effects of snacking before bed on the management of blood sugars in women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).

According to the Australian Journal of General Practice, GDM affects around 10% of pregnancies and can occur in up to 30% of pregnancies in high risk populations.

Dr Roach, who is a research assistant under Dr Monique Francois, wants to test how the consumption of carbohydrates before bed could aid in GDM management.

 “It’s often recommended that pregnant women with GDM have a snack before bed to improve fasting glucose levels the following morning, but this isn’t based on evidence,” she said.

“We recently conducted a survey on over 100 allied health professionals and found 89% recommend a bedtime snack to women with GDM. The main reason given was to improve blood glucose the next morning and to reduce the risk of low blood glucose overnight. We found that most allied health professionals are recommending one carbohydrate exchange as a snack,” Dr Roach said.

Dr Roach is seeking 117 participants who are less than 30 weeks pregnant and have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. 

More than 800 women in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven area are diagnosed with gestational diabetes each year, and the number has increased due to the broader diagnosis criteria. However, Dr Francois said that diagnoses have gone down due to COVID-19.

“We were originally only recruiting women in the local area, however now that the study involves no face-to-face interaction, we have decided to open up recruitment nationally. We can collect all the results remotely and connect using online media platforms,” said Dr Roach.

The sample will be randomly separated into three groups based on consumption of carbohydrate exchanges. A carbohydrate exchange is an amount of food that includes approximately 15 grams of carbohydrates.

The groups will be divided into no snack, one carbohydrate exchange and two exchanges consumed before bedtime.

Women will be provided with a list of food options, such as yoghurt, fruit, toast and cereal to consume each night, and will be required to record finger prick blood glucose levels and report results back to researchers. Local participants will also wear a continuous glucose monitor and activity monitor to track in greater detail their exercise and sleep at the beginning and end of the study.

Dr Roach hopes that a study like this one will help inform and standardise evidence-based management practices and lessen the burden of gestational diabetes on mothers and children.

“If we can find evidence that a snack before bed is in fact beneficial, it is a simple strategy women can follow during pregnancy.”

Media contact

Lizzie Jack, Media and Content Coordinator

t: 4221 5432


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