Postgraduate Profiles

MJ Ong

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Thesis: Cycling to prevent the recurrance of gestational diabetes mellitus

My research, entitled The Cycle Study, is investigating the effect of a 14 week home-based exercise program on preventing the recurrence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in women with a history of the condition. The study aims to recruit 200 women before 13 weeks of pregnancy, where they are randomised into two study arms, an intervention group that will be prescribed a standardised 14-week stationary cycling program of moderate intensity, performed 3 times a week and a control group that maintains their usual physical activity regime. The study employs pre- and post- intervention measures of a glucose tolerance test, anthropometric measures and a aerobic fitness test. Birth outcomes will also be collected for analysis.

In addition, I am also conducting an acute laboratory based study of women's responses to exercise in late pregnancy. Women will be subjected to two different type of exercise sessions, a continuous cycling session; and a cycling session involving intermittent periods of increased intensity and their responses in terms of tolerance and enjoyment will be assessed.

Why my research is important

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a common medical complication of pregnancy. Although the hyperglycemia associated with GDM usually resolves itself naturally postpartum, there is increased risk of many acute and long term health problems for the mother and her child, calling for a preventive strategy to reduce its manifestation and recurrence. While regular exercise during pregnancy offers numerous benefits, its effectiveness in preventing GDM remains to be established.

This research aims to determine the effect of regular exercise of preventing GDM, as well as to test the feasibility of a home-based exercise program on reducing the barriers to exercise for pregnant women.

Finally, the results from this study could potentially have major implications on current guidelines of exercise prescription for the pregnant population, as well as the current routine antenatal care policies globally.