Objectives: To document individual variations in the rise in insulin requirements during type I diabetic pregnancies, to relate the degree of increase to maternal characteristics and fetal outcome, and to examine these factors in a subgroup of patients experiencing a large fall in insulin requirement in the third trimester.
Methods: Insulin dose was documented in 237 pregnancies in women with type I diabetes. Multiple regression analysis was performed to identify significant associations with maternal and fetal characteristics. Eighteen pregnancies with a fall in insulin requirement of 30% or more in the third trimester were considered in detail.
Results: The mean absolute increase in insulin requirement was 52 units. The degree of rise was significantly related to maternal weight gain between 20-29 weeks and maternal weight at booking, and was inversely related to duration of diabetes. It was not related to the degree of diabetes control, complications of pregnancy, White class, or outcome of pregnancy. In the 18 women experiencing a large fall in insulin requirement, there was no relation with maternal characteristics or fetal outcome.
Conclusion: There is a wide individual variation in the change in insulin requirements in type I diabetic pregnancy. The degree of increase is related only to maternal weight gain during weeks 20-29 and maternal weight at booking, and is inversely related to duration of diabetes. Large falls in insulin requirement remain unexplained and may not be associated with placental failure.