Diabetes in pregnancy: worse medical outcomes in type 1 diabetes but worse psychological outcomes in gestational diabetes

QJM. 2017 Nov 1;110(11):721-727. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcx106.


Background: Women with diabetes experience an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Aim: We aim to describe and quantify the psychological impact of the diagnosis of diabetes in pregnant women with type 1 diabetes and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) compared to each other and to their counterparts without diabetes.

Design: This is a survey-based study with prospective collection of pregnancy outcome data.

Methods: A total of 218 pregnant women (50% with diabetes) were administered questionnaires relating to psychological health. Maternal and neonatal characteristics and pregnancy outcomes were collected. Associations between key psychometric and health outcome variables were examined.

Results: At least 25% of women in all three pregnancy groups had scores indicating affective distress in at least one domain. Compared to those with type 1 diabetes, women with GDM evidenced a greater number of uplifts in pregnancy (U = 94, P = 0.041), but also higher levels of overall anxiety (U = 92, P = 0.03) and stress (U = 82, P < 0.01). Women with GDM also had significantly elevated overall depression scores, compared with the control group (U = 34, P = 0.02). Both groups of women with diabetes had clinically elevated levels of diabetes-related distress. There were no associations between maternal psychological variables and pregnancy outcomes.

Conclusions: This work highlights a potential role for targeted psychological interventions to address and relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression among pregnant women with diabetes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics / psychology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tertiary Care Centers