Babies born to diabetic mothers four times as likely to die as those born to healthy mothers

September 21, 2000

Outcome of pregnancy in diabetic women in northeast England and in Norway, 1994-97

The babies of diabetic mothers in northeast England are four times as likely to die as those born to healthy mothers, finds a study in this week's BMJ. The risk is six times higher in the UK than it is in Norway, the research shows.

Hawthorne and colleagues compared the rates of death and complications among babies born to diabetic and non-diabetic mothers in northeastern England and Norway between 1994 and 1997.

The babies of diabetic mothers were over four times as likely to die as those born to non-diabetic mothers in the UK and six times as likely to die as those born to non-diabetic mothers in Norway. In Norway, just over 10 in every 1000 births to diabetic mothers resulted in death compared with almost seven in every 1000 births to non-diabetic mothers. Comparable figures in northeast England were almost 43 and 10 per 1000 births, respectively. The risk of having a baby with birth defects was also 2.5 times as high in diabetic as in non-diabetic women in northeast England, while no increase was seen in Norway.

The differences are not explained by the way in which data on diabetes and stillbirths are collected, say the authors, so there must be other reasons for the differences.
Professor Rolf T Lie, Professor of Medical Statistics, University of Bergen, Norway (available Tuesday 19 - Thursday 21 September)

Professor L M Irgens, University of Bergen, Norway


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