Gestational Diabetes Study – ORCHID: Optimisation of Rural Clinical & Haematological Indicators of Diabetes
The Val Lishman Health Research Foundation is supporting researchers at The Rural Clinical School of Western Australia, in conjunction with The University of Western Australia and The University of Notre Dame, with their ORCHID research project. The project is looking at better ways of testing for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).
GDM is the most common maternal health condition, affecting 15 % of women in rural WA. The only recognised test for GDM is the Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT) – a test that involves a pregnant woman drinking a very sweet liquid, waiting two hours and then having her blood glucose level tested. Currently only 50% of women living in rural WA are being screened for GDM using the OGTT. Based on these figures, it is estimated that approximately 450 women each year with GDM are not diagnosed in rural WA. Clinical advise is that 100% of women should be tested to minimise adverse consequences for mother and baby.
This study, under the direction of Coordinating Principal Investigator Dr Julia Marley PhD, will take place in over 10 rural and remote towns and Aboriginal communities across the state. It is hoped that in excess of 600 women will be recruited to participate in the study.
Dr Marley said: “In everyday health service practice the current screening test for GDM is too difficult to achieve. We are looking for a simpler way to screen for diabetes in pregnancy, to see if we can detect it earlier and to reduce the number of women needing to have the OGTT”.
Autism in Rural Communities
The Val Lishman Health Research Foundation is working with Curtin University and the South West Autism Network (SWAN) to determine ways to improve quality of life for autistic children and their families.
The project involves obtaining a comprehensive understanding of the impact that an autism diagnosis has on families and trialling an innovative method of delivering potentially life-changing therapy to children on the autism spectrum.
VLHRF research manager Peter Heyworth said it was important people with the disorder received therapy to support their development as early in life as possible.
“Individuals on the spectrum have difficulty processing information and understanding the world in the usual way, and require assistance in developing their social, communication and fine motor abilities,” he said.
“But accessing specialist treatment is not always easy for people living in regional areas, with cost and time pressures associated with travelling away from home for assistance, creating hurdles.
“We hope this research project will lead not only to improved support for autistic children and but also give them more opportunities to live full and rewarding lives, while also easing pressure off their families.”
SWAN president Mark McAuliffe strongly supported the research project, saying he expected significant benefits to flow from it.
“Regional communities have special needs that do not arise in the city making service delivery difficult,” he said.
“We hope this project will raise awareness of the needs of our members.”
Methamphetamine and Alcohol Project
Dr Hugh Mitenko, Consultant in Accident & emergency at Bunbury Regional Hospital, is conducting a study that investigates the prevalence of alcohol and methamphetamine use in attending patients and investigates potential correlation between drug use and injuries presenting.