New study conducted by researchers at UK’s University of Glasgow has found diabetic women to be four times more likely to give birth to stillborn infants.
Having tracked the records of 5,392 babies born to about 4,000 diabetic mothers in Scotland, the experts found diabetes alongside the Body Mass Index (BMI) of its sufferers to be a critical risk factor in stillbirth.
Their findings, published in the Diabetologia journal, further showed that mothers with type 1 diabetes were three times likely to deliver a stillborn child while those with type 2 were at least four times likely to do the same.
Stillbirth rates were reported to be 16.1 per 1,000 births among women with type 1 and 22.9 per 1,000 births among type 2, in comparison with 4.9 per 1,000 births recorded among the general population.
More significant was the discovery that type 1 women who had stillbirths had blood sugar levels above average throughout pregnancy while pre-pregnancy levels proved to be a more important predictor of stillbirth in women with type 2 diabetes.
According to the researchers, the risk of being stillborn was much higher with babies who had either the highest or lowest weights at birth.
Sharon Mackin, a doctor and lead researcher of the study, reiterated the importance of supporting women during their fertile ages to optimize weight and blood sugar level and lower the risk of adverse outcomes at childbirth.
“It is important that women with diabetes are mindful of this, and are able to access appropriate pre-conceptual counseling, even if not imminently planning a pregnancy,” Mackin said.
“Women with diabetes should also make contact with their diabetes clinic as soon as they get a positive pregnancy test so that we can see and support them early on.”
Although the researchers hinted that early delivery may be considered “an attractive option” to forestall cases of stillbirth among diabetic women, they added that more research would be needed to recommend the specifics for optimal timing.
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