We evaluated the autonomic influence on pregnancy outcome with prospective study of 100 consecutive pregnancies in women with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM). Tests of cardiovascular autonomic nervous function were performed at the beginning of each pregnancy, and two groups were formed. Group 1 was comprised of 23 pregnancies with autonomic dysfunction, and group 2 was comprised of 77 pregnancies with no abnormalities in cardiovascular tests. Elective abortion was later induced for medical reasons in two cases in group 1, and these women were excluded from the study. The groups were comparable with respect to age, duration of diabetes, and presence of nephropathy. Both groups also achieved comparable glycemic control during pregnancy. There were no significant differences between groups 1 and 2 in any specific pregnancy complication (spontaneous abortions, 5 vs. 3%; perinatal mortality, 10 vs. 1%; congenital malformations, 10 vs. 4%; respiratory distress syndrome, 5 vs. 8%; preeclampsia, 20 vs. 10%; maternal ketoacidosis, 4 vs. 0%; and maternal hypoglycemic accidents, 10 vs. 4%, respectively), but the frequency of pregnancies with at least one of the above complications was greater in group 1 (52 vs. 23%, P = 0.01). Stepwise logistic regression analysis showed the association between autonomic dysfunction and pregnancy outcome to be independent of high initial glycosylated hemoglobin levels, long duration of diabetes, and nephropathy. Maternal autonomic dysfunction seems to be associated with an increased frequency of overall pregnancy complications but does not significantly interfere with the achievement of tight metabolic control during pregnancy.

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