Prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus among women born in Greenland: measuring the effectiveness of the current screening procedure

Int J Circumpolar Health. 2010 Sep;69(4):352-60. doi: 10.3402/ijch.v69i4.17676. Epub 2010 Aug 17.


Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) among Greenlanders and to evaluate the quality of the current screening procedure for gestational diabetes.

Study design: Observational retrospective study of consecutive birth-log data and medical records on pregnant women who had given birth in Nuuk during 2008.

Methods: Information about maternal weight, weight gain in pregnancy, height, blood pressure, result of oral glucose tolerance test, family history of diabetes, smoking and alcohol habits, ethnicity, delivery and birth weight and length was collected for women who had given birth in Nuuk, Greenland, during 2008.

Results: A total of 233 women born in Greenland who had given birth to a singleton in Nuuk 2008 were included in the study. Of those, 37% were defined as having a high risk for GDM and thus met the screening criteria for GDM used in Greenland. However, only 54% of those women were screened. The prevalence of gestational diabetes was calculated to be 4.3% among high-risk Greenlandic pregnant women (2/46) (95% CI 0-10.0%).

Conclusions: Despite a suboptimal screening rate, the prevalence of GDM among Greenlanders seems to be relatively low and Greenlanders may thus be less prone to develop GDM. However, diabetes mellitus is a relatively new disease in Greenland, and glucose intolerance in pregnancy is more likely to affect the next generation. The screening rate is suboptimal, and it is recommended that the screening procedure be optimized in order to find and treat all women with GDM. The number of screened women compared to the number of births occurring annually could be used as an indicator of screening efficacy. Diabetes prevention initiatives should be given high priority to avoid high rates of GDM in the future, as increasing prevalence of the disease is now seen worldwide, regardless of race.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Diabetes, Gestational / diagnosis*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Greenland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Mass Screening / standards
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult