IUSM study focuses on mothers, children at risk for diabetes

IUSM study focuses on mothers, children at risk for diabetes
Tabitha Byrne and her 8-year-old daughter Alahna Gonzales are now counting laps.

Tabitha Byrne and her 8-year-old daughter Alahna Gonzales are now counting laps, measurements of their activity together.

"My biggest lifestyle mistake is not being active, so I want to get active and help her get that into her life, so that maybe she will start now and continue that," Byrne said.

Alahna was nine pounds at birth. Then her little brother came along, weighing in at 11.5 pounds. Mom was diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

"I got very big very fast. It was very uncomfortable. I had to check my sugar three times a day. I had to take medicine twice a day, it was not fun," Byrne said.

Diabetes experts say without intervention Byrne, at 30 years old, is on the fast track having that routine for the rest of her life.

"Women who have gestational diabetes, who also become heavy, or are overweight and inactive, have the highest risk of developing Type Two Diabetes in the world. That is the trifecta for risk factors," said David Marrero, Ph.D. and head of the IU Diabetes Translational Research Center. He is also the principal investigator for the Encourage Healthy Families Study.

Byrne wanted to reduce her risk, so she and her daughter enrolled. Their weight, blood pressure and blood sugars are checked quarterly. They also were in enrolled in 16-week wellness programs.

"There are three programs. Two of them are YMCA-based. One program is mothers only and the second is mothers plus children. The third program is attacking obesity from the medical center using a different model a different approach and that focuses on the children only," Marrero said.

Right now 45 families are enrolled. There is room for 105 more.

"We really think there is an opportunity to here to really make a difference in the long term health, in the long term outcomes of the children of women at high risk. We really want them to participate, so we can really do something for them before it becomes way too difficult to catch it," Marrero said.

Tabitha and her daughter together aim for 190 minutes of activity per week and are learning about portion control.

"We do the serving size. We look on the back of the bag or box of whatever we are eating and we count it out," Byrne said.

They are slight changes that could have a dramatic health impact.

"We know that very modest amounts of weight loss for example can reduce your risk for 60 to 70 percent and that is a huge reduction," Marrero said.

Byrne has learned to maintain her weight. Now she wants to drop and she hopes her daughter is watching.

"I just want her to be healthy and active," Byrne said.

You may qualify for this study if you have one or more children between the ages of 8 and 15 and fit at least one of the following criteria: had high blood sugar during pregnancy, had a baby weighing 9 pounds or more at birth or currently have prediabetes.

Participants are compensated for their time. To learn more call 317-278-0901 or email dtrc@iupui.edu.

Learn more here.