Objective: Our purpose was to determine whether there are differences in the timing of the appearance of various amniotic fluid fetal pulmonary phospholipids in normal and diabetic pregnancy.
Study design: A case-control study of 295 subjects with diabetes and 590 control subjects was performed by use of gestational age-matched amniocentesis specimens analyzed for lecithin/sphingomyelin (L/S) ratio, phosphatidylinositol (PI), and phosphatidylglycerol (PG) composition. Diabetic subjects were stratified according to type of diabetes, degree of blood glucose control, and birth percentile of the neonate.
Results: There was no difference in L/S ratios over gestational age by type of diabetes or quality of glycemic control. Women with preexisting diabetes had significantly higher PI levels at 33 to 35 weeks' gestation, which became similar to levels of control subjects after 36 weeks, whereas patients with gestational diabetes mellitus and control subjects had similar PI levels throughout. In diabetic subjects, the onset of production of PG was delayed from 35.9 +/- 1.1 weeks (controls) to 38.7 +/- 0.9 weeks (overt diabetics) and 37.3 +/- 1.0 weeks for gestational diabetes mellitus (P <.001). The delay in PG synthesis was not related to infant sex, level of maternal glucose control, or fetal macrosomia.
Conclusions: Fetal pulmonary maturation, as evidenced by the onset of PG production in the amniotic fluid, is delayed in diabetic pregnancy by 1 to 1.5 weeks. This delay appears to be associated with an early and sustained elevation in amniotic fluid PI levels at 32 to 34 weeks.