Maternal serum α-fetoprotein levels in pregnancies complicated by diabetes: Implications for screening programs

Alice O. Martin*, Lisa M. Dempsey, John Minogue, Kiang Liu, James Keller, Ralph Tamura, Norbert Freinkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Maternal serum α-fetoprotein may be reduced in diabetic pregnancies, but the association with elevated glycosylated hemoglobin has been controversial. We tested the hypothesis that reductions in maternal serum α-fetoprotein may reflect the same phenomena that can also impair normal rates of embryo growth in the presence of poorly compensated maternal diabetes. If so, associations would be expected among maternal serum α-fetoprotein, embryo rates of growth, and levels of glycosylated hemoglobin reflective of regulation of maternal diabetes during the period of organogenesis. We found maternal serum α-fetoprotein levels in 93 pregnant patients with diabetes to be negatively associated with the earliest (4 to 12 weeks) glycosylated hemoglobin determinations. At glycosylated hemoglobin values >9.6% (which approximates the upper quartile), all maternal serum α-fetoprotein values fell below the median for patients without diabetes (below 0.8 multiple of the median after weight adjustment). Moreover, there was a trend for pregnancies with lower maternal serum α-fetoprotein levels and higher glycosylated hemoglobin values to also demonstrate early fetal growth delay as measured by ultrasonography.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1209-1216
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number4 PART 1
StatePublished - Oct 1990


  • Diabetes
  • fetal growth
  • glycosylated hemoglobin
  • maternal serum α-fetoprotein
  • neural tube defects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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