A common diabetes medication helps reduce weight gain in obese, pregnant women, based on a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Known as the Metformin in Obese Nondiabetic Pregnant Women (MOP) trial, this study tested the use of metformin in obese, pregnant women without diabetes. Metformin is a common medication that promotes blood sugar control in patients with diabetes.
Past studies suggest that metformin helps safely prevent weight gain in pregnant women with diabetes. Experts wondered if this same drug might help prevent weight gain in obese women, who are especially prone to excess weight gain.
A total of 450 obese, pregnant women without diabetes participated in the study. Participants were from three maternity hospitals in the United Kingdom. At the start of the study, women were anywhere from 12–18 weeks into their pregnancy. Half of participants were randomly chosen to take metformin for the remainder of their pregnancy, while the other half took an inactive placebo drug.
After following women through their delivery date, researchers found that women taking metformin gained four fewer pounds during pregnancy than those taking the placebo. Women taking metformin were also 76% less likely to develop a dangerous pregnancy complication called preeclampsia than those who didn’t.
However, researchers found that metformin had no significant impact on birth weight. Obesity and diabetes both increase risk for having significantly larger babies than average. Experts had hoped that metformin might have helped reduce risk for this complication in obese, pregnant women.
Still, experts are encouraged by study findings. It’s estimated that one in three pregnant women in the United States is obese, which increases risk of complications for both mother and baby. Unfortunately, dietary and lifestyle interventions have been largely unsuccessful in improving outcomes for pregnant, obese women. But findings suggest that drugs like metformin have potential in safely reducing risk of complications in pregnant women and newborns. With additional research, experts hope to continue to assess treatments like metformin and help reduce complications for obese, pregnant women.