Background: In addition to increasing the risk of adverse birth outcomes, diabetes in pregnancy is thought to be an important driver of the epidemic of type 2 diabetes affecting Canada's First Nations population. The relative contributions of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and pre-existing diabetes are not well understood. We generated a comprehensive epidemiological profile of diabetes in pregnancy over a 10-year period among the First Nations population of Alberta, Canada.
Methods: De-identified administrative data for 427,058 delivery records were obtained for the years 2000-2009. Pregnancy risk factors and delivery outcomes were described and compared by ethnicity (First Nations vs. non-First Nations) and diabetes status. Age-adjusted prevalence values for GDM and pre-existing diabetes were calculated and were compared by ethnicity. Longitudinal changes over time were also examined. Predictors were explored using logistic regression analysis.
Results: First Nations women had more antenatal risk factors and adverse infant outcomes that were compounded by diabetes. First Nations descent was an independent predictor of diabetes in pregnancy (p < 0.001). GDM prevalence was significantly higher among First Nations (6.1%) compared to non-First Nations women (3.8%; p < 0.001), but prevalence values increased significantly over time only in non-First Nations women (4.5 average annual percent change; p < 0.05). The prevalence of pre-existing diabetes was stable over time in both groups, but First Nations women experienced a 2.5-fold higher overall prevalence compared with non-First Nations women (1.5% vs. 0.6%, respectively; p < 0.001).
Conclusions: Although First Nations women experience a higher overall prevalence of diabetes in pregnancy, the lack of increase in the prevalence over time is encouraging. However, because high-risk pregnancies and poor outcomes are more common among First Nations women, particularly those with diabetes, strategies to improve perinatal care must be implemented.