The risk of stillbirth in pregnancies before and after the onset of diabetes

Diabet Med. 2003 Sep;20(9):703-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1464-5491.2003.01015.x.


Aims: There is significant controversy as to whether or not stillbirth is increased in pregnancies prior to the onset of diabetes. An observed increase may be indicative of risks associated with untreated gestational diabetes. It is generally accepted that the risk of stillbirth in pregnancies that occur after the onset of diabetes has been diminished by modern obstetric care. However, the degree of residual risk is not well quantified. This study sought to examine the rates of stillbirth before and after the onset of diabetes compared with the general population.

Methods: Retrospective cohort and nested case-control study. The study population was drawn from the UK-based General Practice Research Database, comprising some 300 practices, with data collection from the late 1980s until September 1999. From the base population, 913 diabetic women who had had a pregnancy were identified and 10,000 subjects without diabetes were randomly chosen as controls. Stillbirth was defined as death in utero after 20 weeks or with birth weight >500 g.

Results: The stillbirth rates were higher in prediabetic pregnancies (19.7/1000), and in those occurring after the diagnosis of diabetes (33.7/1000), compared with the non-diabetic population (5.5/1000). Stillbirths were matched to four live births by maternal age and year of birth. Prediabetic pregnancy and pregnancy after the onset of diabetes were strongly associated with stillbirth: odds ratio (OR)=4.68 (1.67, 13.08) and OR=4.39 (2.22, 8.64), respectively.

Conclusions: The risk of stillbirth was increased in both prediabetic and post-diabetic pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diabetes, Gestational*
  • Female
  • Fetal Death / epidemiology*
  • Fetal Death / etiology
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Prediabetic State*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology