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Trends and burden of diabetes in pregnancy among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal mothers in Western Australia, 1998–2015

Ahmed, M.A., Bailey, H.D., Pereira, G., White, S.W., Wong, K. and Shepherd, C.C.J. (2022) Trends and burden of diabetes in pregnancy among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal mothers in Western Australia, 1998–2015. BMC Public Health, 22 (1). Art. 263.

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Diabetes in pregnancy (DIP), which includes pre-gestational and gestational diabetes, is more prevalent among Aboriginal women. DIP and its adverse neonatal outcomes are associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the offspring. This study investigated the impact of DIP on trends of large for gestational age (LGA) in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations, and added to the limited evidence on temporal trends of DIP burden in these populations.


We conducted a retrospective cohort study that included all births in Western Australia between 1998 and 2015 using linked population health datasets. Time trends of age-standardised and crude rates of pre-gestational and gestational diabetes were estimated in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal mothers. Mixed-effects multivariable logistic regression was used to estimate the association between DIP and population LGA trends over time.


Over the study period, there were 526,319 births in Western Australia, of which 6.4% were to Aboriginal mothers. The age-standardised annual rates of pre-gestational diabetes among Aboriginal mothers rose from 4.3% in 1998 to 5.4% in 2015 and remained below 1% in non-Aboriginal women. The comparable rates for gestational diabetes increased from 6.7 to 11.5% over the study period in Aboriginal women, and from 3.5 to 10.2% among non-Aboriginal mothers. LGA rates in Aboriginal babies remained high with inconsistent and no improvement in pregnancies complicated by gestational diabetes and pre-gestational diabetes, respectively. Regression analyses showed that DIP explained a large part of the increasing LGA rates over time in Aboriginal babies.


There has been a substantial increase in the burden of pre-gestational diabetes (Aboriginal women) and gestational diabetes (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) in recent decades. DIP appears to substantially contribute to increasing trends in LGA among Aboriginal babies.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Ngangk Yira Research Centre for Aboriginal Health and Social Equity
Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.
Copyright: © 2022 The Authors.
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