Steady rise in pre-pregnancy diabetes threatens health of mothers, infants

By Nicholas Gerbis
Published: Wednesday, May 31, 2023 - 3:14pm
Updated: Wednesday, May 31, 2023 - 3:16pm

Audio icon Download mp3 (1.3 MB)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Although more than four-fifths of diabetes cases in pregnant females develop during pregnancy, studies show pre-pregnancy diabetes mellitus (PDM) poses a greater risk for mothers and infants.

A new study by the National Center for Health Statistics shows those cases have been rising steadily.

Rates rose steadily over the five-year study, which began in 2016, the first year PDM appeared on the U.S. Standard Certificate of Live Birth.

By 2021, the rate in Arizona had risen 38%, compared to an overall U.S. rise of 27%.

PDM increased with age and BMI.

The rate for American Indian or Alaska Native mothers, the group with the highest PDM rate, more than tripled that of White mothers, the group with the lowest.

PDM affects 1%–2% of U.S. pregnancies annually.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is linked to higher risks of maternal hypertensive disorders and cesarean delivery. In infants, it raises the risks fetal death, birth defects, preterm birth, hypoglycemia, respiratory distress, and obesity and diabetes later in life.

Science Gender Health + Medicine