Having diabetes has long been known to increase the risk of certain pregnancy-related complications — risks that can often be minimized by optimizing blood glucose control.
But according to a new study, one group is particularly hard-hit by complications during pregnancy and childbirth: teenagers.
Published in the journal Pediatric Diabetes, the study looked at health insurance claims data for over 33,000 adolescent females, ages 12 to 19, who became pregnant. Out of this group, 639 were identified as having a diabetes diagnosis before pregnancy.
Among the adolescents who didn’t have diabetes before pregnancy, the rates of pregnancy complications and other adverse outcomes were similar to national estimates for teenage pregnancies. Those with diabetes, though, were found to be at higher risk for a number of outcomes: preeclampsia (2.4 times as likely), preterm delivery (1.5 times as likely), high birth weight (1.8 times as likely) and cesarean birth (1.8 times as likely).
Having diabetes was also found to increase the total amount of health care used by pregnant teenagers, with more inpatient (hospital) and outpatient claims submitted. Total medical spending for these adolescents was 45% higher if they had diabetes, and 83% higher if they had diabetes complicated by ketoacidosis or advanced organ damage.
“Our study reinforces the importance of comprehensive reproductive health education for adolescents with diabetes — including the serious risks of pregnancy and need for reliable contraception when these adolescents become sexually active,” the researchers write in the study. “Pregnancy prevention strategies and close monitoring during pregnancy may help to mitigate adverse outcomes and the associated high costs of health care utilization in this population.”