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We determined the impact of gestational diabetes (GDM) and pre-existing diabetes (DM) on birth/placental weight and cord oxygen values with implications for placental efficiency and fetal-placental growth and development.


A hospital database was used to obtain birth/placental weight, cord PO2 and other information on patients delivering between Jan 1, 1990 and Jun 15, 2011 with GA >34 weeks (N = 69,854). Oxygen saturation was calculated from the cord PO2 and pH data, while fetal O2 extraction was calculated from the oxygen saturation data. The effect of diabetic status on birth/placental weight and cord oxygen values was examined adjusting for covariates.


Birth/placental weights were stepwise decreased in GDM and DM compared to non-diabetics with placentas disproportionally larger indicating decreasing placental efficiency. Umbilical vein oxygen was marginally increased in GDM but decreased in DM attributed to the previously reported hyper-vascularization in diabetic placentas with absorbing surface area of capillaries initially increased, but then constrained by increasing distance from maternal blood within the intervillous space. Umbilical artery oxygen was unchanged in GDM and DM, with fetal O2 extraction decreased in DM indicating that fetal O2 delivery must be increased relative to O2 consumption and likely due to increased umbilical blood flow.


Increased villous density/hyper-vascularization in GDM and DM with placentas disproportionately larger and umbilical blood flow increased, are postulated to normalize umbilical artery oxygen despite increased birth weights and growth-related O2 consumption. These findings have implications for mechanisms signaling fetal-placental growth and development in diabetic pregnancies and differ from that reported with maternal obesity.


This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Wednesday, May 01, 2024