According to a recent study, pregnant women with type 1 diabetes are at an increased risk of delivering babies prematurely.
The findings suggest that the risk increases as blood sugar levels rise, however, women who maintain the recommended levels also risk giving birth prematurely.
In a previous study, a group of researchers showed that pregnant women with type 1 diabetes were at an increased risk of having babies with heart defects. Now, a new study has been published that shows how women with type 1 diabetes have an increased risk of giving birth prematurely.
“High long-term blood sugar, so-called HbA1c, during pregnancy is linked to an increased risk for complications, including preterm birth. The risk is highest amongst those with HbA1c levels above 8-9%, but even those who maintain their HbA1c, are at an increased risk of giving birth prematurely,” explained Jonas F. Ludvigsson, lead author of the study published in the Journal of Annals of Internal Medicine.
As part of the study, researchers identified 2,474 infants born to women who recorded long-term glycosylated hemoglobin levels (HbA1c) during pregnancy. These were compared to 1.16 million infants born to women without diabetes.
Approximately 22% of infants born to women with type 1 diabetes were born prematurely, which can be compared to below five per cent of infants born to women without type 1 diabetes. 37% of women with type 1 diabetes and an HbA1c level above 9% gave birth prematurely. Yet even 13% of those with adhering to the current recommendations for blood sugar gave birth too early.
“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 Ludvigsson.
The study also found an increased risk of these newborns being “large for gestational age”, being injured during childbirth, experiencing respiratory problems, low blood sugar and suffering from lack of oxygen (“asphyxia”) in addition to higher neonatal mortality rates amongst those exposed to high blood sugar during pregnancy.
Also, the risk of stillbirth was linked to HbA1c levels in pregnant women with type 1 diabetes.