• Question: How do you test on pregnant women? Are they volunteers or how are they chosen?

    Asked by 445crazystemperson to Kate on 18 Jun 2019.
    • Photo: Kate Timms

      Kate Timms answered on 18 Jun 2019:

      Hi! I ask women for their consent to use their placentas after they have had a c-section. If they say yes, then I can go into theatre with them and wait in the back whilst the doctors do the operation. Then I take away the placenta and do my experiments on that. It’s really hard to do experiments on people, especially pregnant women, so you have to do it all in tissue (like the placentas) and then animals, then healthy volunteers before you can test in pregnant women. Basically, we have to know it’s safe first before we do anything else.
      For the study I’m doing currently, I am collecting tissue from women with normal pregnancies and also women who get diabetes during their pregnancy. I pick from the women who are down on the list to have elective c-sections (that means that it’s not an emergency) that day. I look briefly at why they are having a c-section and see if they are suitable for my research. Then it all depends on if they agree (consent) to me using their placenta, which usually they do because otherwise it’s just thrown away!