Gestational diabetes increased in women exposed to mine fire smoke

New research from the Hazelwood Health Study Latrobe Early Life Follow-Up (ELF) stream
has revealed that pregnant women exposed to smoke from the coal mine fire were more likely
to be diagnosed with gestational diabetes, compared to pregnant women who were not
exposed to coal mine fire smoke.

The study analysed whether pregnant mothers exposed to mine fire smoke were more likely
to experience complications in pregnancy, including gestational diabetes, high blood
pressure, or placental problems, compared to mothers who were not exposed in their

The analysis was undertaken through examining anonymous Victorian Perinatal Data
Collection (VPDC) records for pregnant women in the Latrobe Valley who gave birth at 20 or
more weeks gestation between 1st March 2012 to 31st December 2015.

ELF stream researcher Dr Shannon Melody reassured that “there was no evidence that
exposure to smoke was associated with other complications in pregnancy such as high blood
pressure conditions, or problems with the position or attachment of the placenta.”

Stream lead Associate Professor Fay Johnston noted that these findings should be
considered in the light of other research published by the Latrobe Early Life Follow-Up stream
of the health study. “We have evaluated many pregnancy and childbirth outcomes in ELF
participants using both parent-reported data and anonymous VPDC records. We have not
found smoke exposure to be associated with lower than expected birthweight, or earlier than
expected delivery. But when looking at the VPDC records we have found important
associations with diabetes in pregnancy,” said Associate Professor Johnson.

These findings will be shared with relevant organisations and the scientific community so that
they can inform services for the future health of the Latrobe Valley.

This analysis was conducted by the Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University
of Tasmania as part of the larger, Monash University-led Hazelwood Health Study.

This research was funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

For more information about the Hazelwood Health Study, visit