Objective: To identify effects on health outcomes from implementing new criteria diagnosing gestational diabetes mellitus(GDM) and to analyse costs-of-care associated with this change.
Design: Quasi-experimental study comparing data from the calendar year before (2014) and after (2016) the change.
Setting: Single, tertiary-level, university-affiliated, maternity hospital.
Participants: All women giving birth in the hospital, excluding those with pre-existing diabetes or multiple pregnancy.
Main outcome measures: Primary outcomes were caesarean section, birth weight >90th percentile for gestation, hypertensive disorder of pregnancy and preterm birth less than 37 weeks. A number of secondary outcomes reported to be associated with GDM were also analysed.Care packages were derived for those without GDM, diet-controlled GDM and GDM requiring insulin. The institutional Business Reporting Unit data for average occasions of service, pharmacy schedule for the costs of consumables and medications, and Medicare Benefits Schedule ultrasound services were used for costing each package. All costs were estimated in figures from the end of 2016 negating the need to adjust for Consumer Price Index increases.
Results: There was an increase in annual incidence of GDM of 74% without overall improvements in primary health outcomes. This incurred a net cost increase of AUD$560 093. Babies of women with GDM had lower rates of neonatal hypoglycaemia and special care nursery admissions after the change, suggesting a milder spectrum of disease.
Conclusion: New criteria for the diagnosis of GDM have increased the incidence of GDM and the overall cost of GDM care. Without obvious changes in short-term outcomes, validation over other systems of diagnosis may require longer term studies in cohorts using universal screening and treatment under these criteria.
Keywords: fetal medicine; maternal medicine; obstetrics.
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