AIMS: To determine whether the neonatal and delivery outcomes of gestational diabetes vary seasonally in the context of a relatively cool temperate climate.
METHODS: A retrospect cohort of 23 735 women consecutively delivering singleton, live-born term infants in a single tertiary obstetrics centre in the UK (2004-2008) was identified. A total of 985 (4.1%) met the diagnostic criteria for gestational diabetes. Additive dynamic regression models, adjusted for maternal age, BMI, parity and ethnicity, were used to compare gestational diabetes incidence and outcomes over annual cycles. Outcomes included: random plasma glucose at booking; gestational diabetes diagnosis; birth weight centile; and delivery mode.
RESULTS: The incidence of gestational diabetes varied by 30% from peak incidence (October births) to lowest incidence (March births; P=0.031). Ambient temperature at time of testing (28 weeks) was strongly positively associated with diagnosis (P<0.001). Significant seasonal variation was evident in birth weight in gestational diabetes-affected pregnancies (average 54th centile June to September; average 60th centile December to March; P=0.027). Emergency Caesarean rates also showed significant seasonal variation of up to 50% (P=0.038), which was closely temporally correlated with increased birth weights.
CONCLUSIONS: There is substantial seasonal variation in gestational diabetes incidence and maternal-fetal outcomes, even in a relatively cool temperate climate. The highest average birth weight and greatest risk of emergency Caesarean delivery occurs in women delivering during the spring months. Recognizing seasonal variation in neonatal and delivery outcomes provides new opportunity for individualizing approaches to managing gestational diabetes.