AimsTo compare antenatal detection of congenital anomaly in women with and without pre‐gestational diabetes and their pregnancy outcomes in a regional cohort study.MethodsData from a total of 7148 singleton pregnancies with a congenital anomaly delivered between 1 January 1996 and 31 December 2008 were extracted from the Northern Diabetes in Pregnancy and Northern Congenital Abnormality Surveys. Antenatal ultrasound detection rates of congenital anomaly in pregnancies complicated by major non‐chromosomal congenital anomaly and resulting in live birth, stillbirth, late miscarriage (20–23 weeks of gestation) or termination of pregnancy for a congenital anomaly, were compared between women with and without diabetes (120 and 7028, respectively).ResultsA significantly higher rate of antenatal detection of congenital anomalies was observed in women with diabetes compared with women without diabetes (50.8 vs. 38.6%, respectively; relative risk 1.32; 95% CI 1.10–1.57; P = 0.003). Cardiovascular anomalies were the only group with a significantly higher antenatal detection rate in women with diabetes (31.8 vs. 10.4%; relative risk 3.05; 95% CI 1.95–4.76; P < 0.00001). This difference remained after excluding cases of ventricular septal defect (52.2 vs. 16.3%; relative risk 3.20; 95% CI 2.13–4.80; P < 0.0001). Among women with diabetes, male fetal sex was the only factor associated with a higher antenatal detection rate. There were no differences in the rates of termination of pregnancy, late miscarriage, stillbirth or infant death between groups.ConclusionsAntenatal detection of cardiovascular anomalies was higher in women with diabetes, suggesting that recommendations for enhanced cardiovascular scanning may improve detection. Greater awareness of the increased risk of anomalies in other organ systems is needed.