Pregnant women who have type 1 diabetes are at increased risk of giving birth prematurely, according to new research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Although the risk rises with higher blood sugar levels, even women maintaining target levels are at a heightened risk of delivering prematurely.
The researchers looked at the Swedish Medical Birth Register and Swedish National Diabetes Register, comparing 2,474 babies born to women with diabetes to 1.16 million babies born to women without diabetes. They found that roughly 22% of infants born to women with diabetes were premature, compared to fewer than 5% of infants born to women without diabetes. Thirty-seven percent of women with type 1 diabetes and an HbA1c level (a measure of blood glucose control over the previous 2–3 months) above 9% gave birth prematurely, and 13% of women with type 1 diabetes and target HbA1c levels delivered prematurely.
“This is the first study large enough to demonstrate a clear relationship between different HbA1c levels and preterm birth. Our study has been conducted nationally and thus provides a result that can be applied to the average woman with type 1 diabetes,” says researcher Jonas F. Ludvigsson, MD, PhD of Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.
Want to learn more about pregnancy and type 1 diabetes? Read “Pregnancy and Type 1 Diabetes.”