Diabetes in Pregnancy Can Be Costly

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Gestational diabetes may lead to higher maternity costs and complications

January 8, 2013 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

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(dailyRx News) Bringing a baby into this world means more than extra responsibility. It also means extra costs, especially if you have diabetes during pregnancy.

In a recent study, women with gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) had higher rates of C-section and their infants had higher admission rates to the neonatal unit.

Results showed that the cost of caring for these women was about 34 percent higher than in women without gestational diabetes.

"Ask a doctor about healthy eating and body weight during pregnancy."

Diabetes can lead to a number of complications, and it's no different during pregnancy. Paddy Gillespie, PhD, of National University of Ireland Galway, and colleagues set out to explore the effects of gestational diabetes on maternity care and costs.

If you are diagnosed with gestational diabetes, it does not necessarily mean you had diabetes before pregnancy or that you will have the condition after pregnancy. However, it does mean that you have high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. According to the American Diabetes Association, gestational diabetes affects an estimated 18 percent of pregnancies.

The study included 4,372 women, 354 (8.1 percent) of whom were diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The researchers looked at how gestational diabetes affects how the baby is delivered, neonatal unit admission rates and the cost of maternity care.

Compared to women without gestational diabetes, women with gestational diabetes had:

  • higher rates of emergency Caesarean section, or C-section (surgical removal of the infant), with an odds ratio of 1.75
  • infants with higher rates of neonatal unit admission, with an odds ratio of 3.14
  • 34 percent higher costs of care

An odds ratio explains the odds of an event happening in one group versus another. In this case, the odds ratio of 1.75 for C-sections means that women with gestational diabetes have 1.75 times the odds of C-section compared to those without gestational diabetes.

According to the authors, "[Gestational diabetes] plays an independent role in explaining variations in rates of emergency Caesarean section, neonatal unit admission, and costs of care, placing a substantial economic burden on maternity care services."

They concluded that interventions to prevent gestational diabetes could lead to lower costs and clinical benefits for pregnant women.

The research was published December 28 in Diabetes Care, a journal of the American Diabetes Association. No funding or disclosure information was available.

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Review Date: 
January 6, 2013
Last Updated:
August 14, 2013