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Researchers will establish a unique registry of pregnant women with diabetes in Denmark

Dorte Møller Jensen will establish a registry of pregnant women with diabetes in Denmark in collaboration with researchers and doctors throughout Denmark based on a grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The aim is to advance knowledge on how diabetes affects pregnancy and the unborn child.

A grant of DKK 25 million from the Novo Nordisk Foundation will provide Denmark with a major nationwide registry of women with diabetes and their children.

The registry will advance knowledge on how diabetes and its treatment affect not only the pregnant women but also their unborn children.

Dorte Møller Jensen, Professor at Steno Diabetes Center Odense, is leading the project. In the next 5 years, she will collect data on all pregnant women with diabetes in Denmark in collaboration with doctors and researchers from other Steno Diabetes Centers.

The aim is to create a registry that elucidates all aspects of how diabetes is associated with the outcomes for pregnant women and the unborn children.

“The registry will enable us to obtain unique and detailed knowledge of the effects of treating these people in Denmark. We hope that it can help to develop complementary interventions that will be robust and long-term solutions for pregnant women with diabetes and their children. In addition, research collaboration in this field in Denmark has been well established over decades, and the chance of success is therefore good,” explains Dorte Møller Jensen.

Trends over the past 20 years
Denmark has previously pioneered registry research on how diabetes affects pregnancy, childbirth and unborn children.

This research has shown that the children of mothers with diabetes have an increased risk of overweight, high blood pressure and lack of insulin sensitivity. The women also have an increased risk of pregnancy complications, pre-eclampsia and Caesarean section.

This knowledge is based on such sources as registry data from the 1990s, but many new treatment initiatives have been introduced since then, such as continuous blood glucose meters, pump technology, insulin analogues and new treatments for type 2 diabetes and obesity. The effects of many of these treatments has been studied in large cohorts at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen but not nationwide.

“In addition, the competencies within registry research in Denmark have improved vastly, so that we can extract much more knowledge from the registries today than we could just 20 years ago. We have therefore wanted to establish this registry for years so that we have data not only from the mother and children but also from the father,” says Dorte Møller Jensen.

Collaboration between all Steno Diabetes Centers
The Danish Diabetes Birth Registry will contain all the data that are relevant to diabetes and pregnancy, including large quantities of biological data but also data on socioeconomic factors, mental health and quality of life.

In Denmark, about 400 women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes give birth annually, so during the 5 project years, the researchers will collect data from 2,000 women, their children and the children’s fathers.

All Steno Diabetes Centers in Denmark are involved in the project and will elucidate various issues in relation to the Centers’ individual core competencies.

  • Steno Diabetes Center North Denmark will focus on how the latest technologies in glucose meters and pump technology can support improved treatment of pregnant women with diabetes. The Center will investigate this in various subprojects.
  • Steno Diabetes Center Aarhus will focus on intersectoral collaborative and translational research, especially focusing on how to optimally return women and children to primary healthcare (their general practitioner and public health nurses) after birth.
  • At Steno Diabetes Center Odense, researchers will focus on diabetes and the risk of developing depression.
  • At Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen, researchers and doctors will focus strongly on educating pregnant women in understanding and managing diabetes.
  • Finally, Steno Diabetes Center Zealand will especially examine social inequalities and the socioeconomic outcomes of being born to a mother with diabetes.
  • In addition, researchers under Elisabeth Mathiesen, Professor of Endocrinology at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, will develop an educational intervention during the project period to supplement the established treatment. They will investigate the effects of the intervention by using data from the new registry.

“A PhD project will be established at each Center, and then we will collaborate to extract as much from the registry as possible. The plan is that we will establish the Danish Diabetes Birth Registry over the next 5 years but that both the women and their children will be followed up long term, so that we can see how the situation develops over time,” says Dorte Møller Jensen.

Sine Knorr, Postdoctoral Fellow from Steno Diabetes Center Aarhus, has played a key role in designing the registry and will coordinate the registry on a daily basis.

Strengthening collaboration
Dorte Møller Jensen is receiving a Steno National Collaborative Grant of DKK 25 million. The Foundation awards this grant each year.

The purpose of the Steno National Collaborative Grant is to strengthen research on diabetes in Denmark by promoting collaboration between all the Steno Diabetes Centers.

The aim of the projects for which the grant is awarded is to strengthen Denmark’s leading position in diabetes with large, long-term clinical research projects with cohorts of people with diabetes or at risk of developing diabetes in Denmark.

Grants for an additional five collaborative projects
In addition to the grant to Dorte Møller Jensen, the Foundation has also awarded four Steno Collaborative Project Grants and one Steno North American Fellowship.

  • Charlotte Brøns, Senior Researcher, Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen, is receiving a grant of DKK 4.9 million for the project Increased Risk of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Low-birth-weight Individuals – Extended Validation, Reversibility and Mechanistic Studies.
  • Charlotte Klinker, Senior Researcher, Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen, is receiving DKK 3.5 million for The PROVE IT Study: Promoting Healthy Weight in Young Adults Attending Vocational Education – A Feasibility Study of a Participatory Systems Approach.
  • Preben Homøe, Professor, Zealand University Hospital Køge, is receiving DKK 4.9 million for the project Sleep Apnoea among High -risk Groups in Greenland and Denmark (SLEAP).
  • Troels Krarup Hansen, Professor, Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University, is receiving DKK 7.9 million for the project An International Collaboration Targeting Painful Diabetic Neuropathy: a Double-blind, Multicentre, Placebo-controlled Trial of CGRP Antibody Therapy.
  • Jesper Fleischer, Senior Researcher, Steno Diabetes Center Zealand, is receiving a Steno North American Fellowship for the project Correlation between COVID-19 Severity and Diabetic Cardiovascular Autonomic Neuropathy: to Broaden Our Insight and Optimize Management (COVIDCAN).

Further information

Christian Mostrup, Senior Programme Lead, Communications, +45 3067 4805, [email protected]