Background: Pregnant diabetic women are often subjected to frequent and prolonged hospitalizations to assure tight glycemic control, but in recent years attempts have been made at ambulatory control. The financial and social advantages of ambulatory management are obvious, but no report to date has prospectively compared its efficacy with that of hospitalization.
Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy and cost of ambulatory care as compared to repeated hospitalizations for management of diabetes in pregnancy.
Methods: We conducted an 8 year prospective controlled study that included 681 diabetic women, experiencing 801 singleton pregnancies, with commencement of therapy prior to 34 gestational weeks. During 1986–1989, 394 pregnancies (60 pre-gestational diabetes mellitus and 334 gestational diabetes mellitus) were managed by hospitalization, and for the period 1990–1993, 407 pregnancies (61 PGDM and 346 GDM) were managed ambulatorily. Glycemic control, maternal complications, perinatal mortality, neonatal morbidity and hospital cost were analyzed.
Results: There was no difference in metabolic control and pregnancy outcome in women with PGDM between the hospitalized and the ambulatory groups. Patients with GDM who were managed ambulatorily had significantly lower mean capillary glucose levels, later delivery and higher gestational age at induction of labor as compared to their hospitalized counterparts. In this group there were also lower rates of neonatal hyperbilirubinemia, phototherapy and intensive care unit admissions and stay. The saved hospital cost (in Israeli prices) in the ambulatory group was $6,000 and $15,000 per GDM and PGDM pregnancy, respectively.
Conclusions: Ambulatory care is as effective as hospitalization among PGDM patients and more effective among GDM patients with regard to glycemic control and neonatal morbidity. This is not only more convenient for the pregnant diabetic patient, but significantly reduces treatment costs.