Determinants of birth-weight in women with established and gestational diabetes

Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 1993 Aug;33(3):249-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1479-828x.1993.tb02078.x.


Increased birth-weight (macrosomia) can complicate the diabetic pregnancy, but many factors other than hyperglycaemia can influence birth-weight, in particular maternal obesity. In a mixed population (European, Maori and Pacific Islander) with a high prevalence of glucose intolerance and obesity we have examined the relative impact of various maternal factors on birth-weight in women with both established and gestational diabetes. Mean birth-weight was significantly greater in women with established or gestational diabetes than in controls (p < 0.0001), but was similar in women with gestational and established diabetes, despite glycaemic control being significantly poorer (p < 0.0001) in the latter. Birth-weight closely paralleled prepregnancy body mass index rather than glycaemic control, but in Maori women it was lower than expected, probably because of their high prevalence of smoking. Daily cigarette consumption was negatively correlated with birth-weight (p < 0.01) despite the smokers having significantly poorer glycaemic control (p < 0.001). The most significant variables influencing birth-weight in the diabetic pregnancy were gestational age at delivery, prepregnancy body mass index, maternal height, estimated weight gain during pregnancy, the presence of hypertension and cigarette smoking (the latter 2 having negative effects on birth-weight). Glycaemic control in the last half of pregnancy was not significant in this analysis. We conclude that within the limits of glycaemic control which we obtained, birth-weight was largely determined by maternal factors other than hyperglycaemia. Birth-weight thus has severe limitations as an outcome measure of the diabetic pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Birth Weight*
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Diabetes, Gestational* / blood
  • Diabetes, Gestational* / epidemiology
  • Diabetes, Gestational* / ethnology
  • Europe / ethnology
  • Female
  • Fetal Macrosomia / epidemiology
  • Fetal Macrosomia / ethnology
  • Fetal Macrosomia / etiology
  • Fructosamine
  • Gestational Age
  • Hexosamines / blood
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Male
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Polynesia / ethnology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Cardiovascular
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics* / blood
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics* / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy in Diabetics* / ethnology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / ethnology
  • Weight Gain


  • Hexosamines
  • Fructosamine