, Volume 55, Issue 12, pp 3193-3203

First online:

HbA1c and birthweight in women with pre-conception type 1 and type 2 diabetes: a population-based cohort study

  • S. V. GlinianaiaAffiliated withInstitute of Health & Society, Newcastle University Email author 
  • , P. W. G. TennantAffiliated withInstitute of Health & Society, Newcastle University
  • , R. W. BilousAffiliated withInstitute for Cellular Medicine, Newcastle UniversityJames Cook University Hospital, South Tees NHS Trust
  • , J. RankinAffiliated withInstitute of Health & Society, Newcastle UniversityRegional Maternity Survey Office
  • , R. BellAffiliated withInstitute of Health & Society, Newcastle UniversityRegional Maternity Survey Office



To investigate clinical and sociodemographic predictors of birthweight in singletons born to women with type 1 or type 2 diabetes.


Normally formed singleton live births and intrapartum stillbirths, born to women with pre-conception diabetes during 1996–2008, were identified from the population-based Northern Diabetes in Pregnancy Survey (n = 1,505). Associations between potential predictors and birthweight were analysed by multiple regression.


Potentially modifiable independent predictors of increase in birthweight were pre-pregnancy care (adjusted regression coefficient [b] = 87.1 g; 95% CI 12.9, 161.3), increasing third-trimester HbA1c ≤7% (53 mmol/mol) (b = 310.5 g per 1% [11 mmol/mol]; 95% CI 246.3, 374.7) and increasing maternal BMI (b = 9.5 g per 1 kg/m2; 95% CI 3.5, 15.5). Smoking during pregnancy (b = −145.1 g; 95% CI −231.4, −58.8), later gestation at first antenatal visit (b = −15.0 g; 95% CI −26.9, −3.0) and higher peri-conception HbA1c (b = −48.2 g; 95% CI −68.8, −27.6) were independently associated with birthweight reduction. Pre-pregnancy nephropathy (b = −282.7 g; 95% CI −461.8, −103.6) and retinopathy (b = −175.5 g; 95% CI −269.9, −81.0) were independent non-modifiable predictors of reduced birthweight, while greater maternal height was a non-modifiable predictor of increasing birthweight (b = 17.8 g; 95% CI 12.3, 23.2). Other predictors of birthweight increase were male sex, multiparity and increasing gestational age at delivery. Type or duration of diabetes, socioeconomic status and ethnicity were not associated with continuous birthweight.


Poor glycaemic control before and throughout pregnancy is associated with abnormal fetal growth, with increasing peri-conception HbA1c predicting weight reduction and increasing third-trimester HbA1c predicting increased birthweight. Women with microvascular complications of diabetes may require increased surveillance to detect fetal growth restriction.


Birthweight HbA1c Large for gestational age (LGA) Macrosomia Pre-conception diabetes Small for gestational age (SGA)