Prevention of diabetes in women with a history of gestational diabetes: effects of metformin and lifestyle interventions

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Dec;93(12):4774-9. doi: 10.1210/jc.2008-0772. Epub 2008 Sep 30.


Context: A past history of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) confers a very high risk of postpartum development of diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes.

Objective: The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) sought to identify individuals with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and intervene in an effort to prevent or delay their progression to diabetes. This analysis examined the differences between women enrolled in DPP with and without a reported history of GDM.

Design: The DPP was a randomized, controlled clinical trial.

Setting: The study was a multicenter, National Institutes of Health-sponsored trial carried out at 27 centers including academic and Indian Health Services sites.

Patients: A total of 2190 women were randomized into the DPP and provided information for past history of GDM. This analysis addressed the differences between those 350 women providing a past history of GDM and those 1416 women with a previous live birth but no history of GDM.

Interventions: Subjects were randomized to either standard lifestyle and placebo or metformin therapy or to an intensive lifestyle intervention.

Main outcomes: The primary outcome was the time to development of diabetes ascertained by semiannual fasting plasma glucose and annual oral glucose tolerance testing. Assessments of insulin secretion and insulin sensitivity were also performed.

Results: Whereas entering the study with similar glucose levels, women with a history of GDM randomized to placebo had a crude incidence rate of diabetes 71% higher than that of women without such a history. Among women reporting a history of GDM, both intensive lifestyle and metformin therapy reduced the incidence of diabetes by approximately 50% compared with the placebo group, whereas this reduction was 49 and 14%, respectively in parous women without GDM. These data suggest that metformin may be more effective in women with a GDM history as compared with those without.

Conclusions: Progression to diabetes is more common in women with a history of GDM compared with those without GDM history despite equivalent degrees of IGT at baseline. Both intensive lifestyle and metformin are highly effective in delaying or preventing diabetes in women with IGT and a history of GDM.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus / prevention & control*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / prevention & control*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance / complications
  • Glucose Intolerance / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Life Style*
  • Metformin / therapeutic use*
  • Motor Activity
  • Pregnancy
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Metformin