Archived News Item

Mercy Health Researchers Conduct Landmark Study

Pictured: Marie Villani and her daughter Nina. Marie had gestational diabetes and expressed milk before giving birth


A world first study has found that women with diabetes in a low-risk pregnancy can safely express breast milk in late pregnancy, with the study dispelling concerns that the practice could cause harm to babies. The landmark research, published in ‘The Lancet’ was led by researchers at Mercy Hospital for Women, La Trobe University and the Victorian Royal Women’s Hospital.


Sue Walker, Professor of Maternal Fetal Medicine at the University of Melbourne and Director of Perinatal Medicine at Mercy Hospital for Women, said the study provided an eagerly anticipated answer to a common and important clinical problem: “Despite widespread enthusiasm for antenatal expressing, studies to date had suggested potential for harm. This study put these fears to rest, providing a reassurance that antenatal expressing of breast milk is safe for women at low risk.”


The study included 635 Victorian women with diabetes in pregnancy who were at low risk of other complications. The findings pave the way for clinicians to recommend that low-risk pregnant women with diabetes in pregnancy express and store breast milk to give to their newborns in the event they develop hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels) – a condition that can cause serious health problems in newborns.


Messages to: Kasey McCulloch, Mercy Health




30 June 2017.