Gestational diabetes and the risk of late stillbirth: a case-control study from England, UK

Tomasina Stacey, Peter Tennant, Lesley M E McCowan, Edwin A Mitchell, Jayne Budd, Minglan Li, John M.D. Thompson, Bill Martin, Devender Roberts, Alexander Heazell

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Objective - To explore the separate effects of being at risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) and screening for GDM, and of raised fasting plasma glucose (FPG) and clinical diagnosis of GDM, on the risk of late stillbirth.
Design - Prospective case-control study.
Setting – 41 maternity units in the United Kingdom.
Population - Women who had a stillbirth ≥28 weeks’ gestation (n=291) and women with an ongoing pregnancy at the time of interview (n=733).
Methods - Causal mediation analysis explored the joint effects of 1) ‘at risk’ of GDM and screening for GDM and 2) raised FPG (≥5·6mmol/L) and clinical diagnosis of GDM on the risks of late stillbirth. Adjusted odds ratios (aOR) were estimated by logistic regression adjusted for confounders identified by directed acyclic graphs.
Main outcome measures – Screening for GDM and FPG levels
Results -Women 'at risk' of GDM, but not screened, experienced 44% greater risk of late stillbirth than those not at risk (aOR=1·44 95%CI=1·01-2·06). Women ‘at risk’ of GDM who were screened experienced no such increase (aOR=0·98, 95%CI=0·70-1·36). Women with raised FPG not diagnosed with GDM experienced four-fold greater risk of late stillbirth than women with normal FPG (aOR=4·22, 95%CI=1·04-17·02). Women with raised FPG who were diagnosed with GDM experienced no such increase (aOR=1·10 95%CI=0·31-3·91).
Conclusions - Optimal screening and diagnosis of GDM mitigates higher risks of late stillbirth in women at risk of GDM and/or with raised FPG. Failure to diagnose GDM leaves women with raised FPG exposed to avoidable risk of late stillbirth.
Funding – The Midland and North of England Stillbirth Study was funded by grant GN2156 from Action Medical Research, Cure Kids and Sands.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Obstetrics and Gyanecology
Early online date19 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Stillbirth
  • gestational diabetes mellitus
  • pregnancy


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