Can placental growth factors explain birthweight variation in offspring of women with type 1 diabetes?

Siobhan Bacon, Dylan Burger, Mayur Tailor, J. Johanna Sanchez, George Tomlinson, Helen R. Murphy, Denice S. Feig, on behalf of the CONCEPTT Collaborative Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Aims/hypothesis: Maternal hyperglycaemia alone does not explain the incidence of large offspring amongst women with type 1 diabetes. The objective of the study was to determine if there is an association between placental function, as measured by angiogenic factors, and offspring birthweight z score in women with type 1 diabetes. Methods: This cohort study included samples from 157 Continuous Glucose Monitoring in Pregnant Women with Type 1 Diabetes (CONCEPTT) trial participants. Correlations were estimated between birthweight z score and placental growth factor (PlGF) and soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase (sFlt-1) levels measured at baseline and at 24 and 34 weeks of gestation. Linear regression was used to assess the relationship between birthweight z score and placental health, as measured by PlGF and sFlt-1/PlGF ratio, stratified by glycaemic status (continuous glucose monitoring and HbA1c measures) and adjusted for potential confounders of maternal BMI, smoking and weight gain. Higher PlGF levels and lower sFlt-1/PlGF ratios represent healthy placentas, while lower PlGF levels and higher sFlt-1/PlGF ratios represent unhealthy placentas. Results: Among CONCEPTT participants, the slopes relating PlGF levels to birthweight z scores differed according to maternal glycaemia at 34 weeks of gestation (p = 0.003). With optimal maternal glycaemia (HbA1c < 48 mmol/mol [6.5%]/ or continuous glucose monitoring time above range ≤ 30%), birthweight z scores were reduced towards zero (normal weight) with increasing PlGF values (representing a healthy placenta), and increased with decreasing PlGF values. With suboptimal glycaemic status (HbA1c ≥ 48 mmol/mol [6.5%] or time above range > 30%), increasing PlGF values were associated with heavier infants. Those with a healthy placenta (PlGF > 100) and suboptimal glycaemic control had a higher mean z score (2.45) than those with an unhealthy placenta (mean z score = 1.86). Similar relationships were seen when using sFlt-1/PlGF ratio as a marker for a healthy vs unhealthy placenta. Conclusions/interpretation: In women with type 1 diabetes, infant birthweight is influenced by both glycaemic status and placental function. In women with suboptimal glycaemia, infant birthweight was heavier when placentas were healthy. Suboptimal placental function should be considered in the setting of suboptimal glycaemia and apparently ‘normal’ birthweight. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1527–1537
Number of pages11
Issue number7
Early online date10 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • Diabetes
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Placenta growth factor
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in diabetics
  • Pregnancy outcomes
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1

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