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Does hypoglycemia following a glucose challenge test identify a high risk pregnancy?

Suzanne K Pugh1, Dorota A Doherty2, Everett F Magann1*, Suneet P Chauhan3, James B Hill1 and John C Morrison4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Portsmouth, VA, USA

2 School of Women's and Infants' Health, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

3 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Aurora Health Care, West Allis, WI, USA

4 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, MS, USA

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Reproductive Health 2009, 6:10  doi:10.1186/1742-4755-6-10

Published: 14 July 2009



An association between maternal hypoglycemia during pregnancy with fetal growth restriction and overall perinatal mortality has been reported. In a retrospective pilot study we found that hypoglycemia was linked with a greater number of special care/neonatal intensive care unit admissions and approached significance in the number of women who developed preeclampsia. That study was limited by its retrospective design, a narrow patient population and the inability to perform multivariate analysis because of the limitations in the data points collected. This study was undertaken to compare the perinatal outcome in pregnancies with hyoglycemia following a glucose challenge test (GCT) to pregnancies with a normal GCT.


Obstetric patients (not pre-gestational diabetics or gestational diabetes before 24 weeks were eligible. Women with a 1 hour glucose ≤ 88 mg/dL (4.8 m/mol) following a 50-gram oral GCT were matched with the next patient with a 1 hour glucose of 89–139 mg/dL. Pregnancy outcomes were evaluated.


Over 22 months, 436 hypoglycemic patients and 434 normal subjects were identified. Hypoglycemia was increased in women < 25 (p = 0.003) and with pre-existing medical conditions (p < 0.001). Hypoglycemia was decreased if pre-pregnancy BMI ≥ 30 (p = 0.008).

Preeclampsia/eclampsia was more common in hypoglycemic women. (OR = 3.13, 95% CI 1.51 – 6.51, p = 0.002) but not other intrapartum and perinatal outcomes.


Hypoglycemic patients are younger, have reduced pre-pregnancy weight, lower BMIs, and are more likely to develop preeclampsia than normoglycemic women.