Associations Between Preconception Glycemia and Preterm Birth: The Potential Role of Health Care Access and Utilization


Delker, E.; Ramos, G. A.; Bandoli, G.; Lacoursiere, D. Y.; Ferran, K.; Gallo, L. C.; Oren, E.; Gahagan, S.; & Allison, M. (2023). Associations Between Preconception Glycemia and Preterm Birth: The Potential Role of Health Care Access and Utilization. Journal of Women's Health. vol. 32 (3) pp. 274-282 , PMCID: 36796052


Background: Preconception diabetes is strongly associated with adverse birth outcomes. Less is known about the effects of elevated glycemia at levels below clinical cutoffs for diabetes. In this study, we estimated associations between preconception diabetes, prediabetes, and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) on the risk of preterm birth, and evaluated whether associations were modified by access to or utilization of health care services. Materials and Methods: We used data from Add Health, a US prospective cohort study with five study waves to date. At Wave IV (ages 24-32), glucose and HbA1c were measured. At Wave V (ages 32-42), women with a live birth reported whether the baby was born preterm. The analytic sample size was 1989. Results: The prevalence of preterm birth was 13%. Before pregnancy, 6.9% of women had diabetes, 23.7% had prediabetes, and 69.4% were normoglycemic. Compared to the normoglycemic group, women with diabetes had 2.1 (confidence interval [95% CI]: 1.5-2.9) times the risk of preterm birth, while women with prediabetes had 1.3 (95% CI: 1.0, 1.7) times the risk of preterm birth. There was a nonlinear relationship between HbA1c and preterm birth such that risk of preterm birth emerged after HbA1c = 5.7%, a standard cutoff for prediabetes. The excess risks of preterm birth associated with elevated HbA1c were four to five times larger among women who reported unstable health care coverage and among women who used the emergency room as usual source of care. Conclusion: Our findings replicate prior research showing strong associations between preconception diabetes and preterm birth, adding that prediabetes is also associated with higher risk. Policies and interventions to enhance access and utilization of health care among women before pregnancy should be examined. Copyright © 2023, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.




Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Journal of Women's Health


Delker, E.
Ramos, G. A.
Bandoli, G.
Lacoursiere, D. Y.
Ferran, K.
Gallo, L. C.
Oren, E.
Gahagan, S.
Allison, M.

Year Published


Volume Number


Issue Number





15409996 (ISSN)





Reference ID