Background: Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) affects a significant number of women each year and is associated with a wide range of adverse outcomes for women and their babies. Dietary counselling is the main strategy in managing GDM, but it remains unclear which dietary therapy is best.
Objectives: To assess the effects of different types of dietary advice for women with GDM on pregnancy outcomes.
Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (17 May 2012) and the WOMBAT Perinatal Trials Registry (17 April 2012).
Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and cluster-RCTs assessing the effects of different types of dietary advice for women with GDM on pregnancy outcomes.We intended to compare two or more forms of the same type of dietary advice against each other, i.e. standard dietary advice compared with individualised dietary advice, individual dietary education sessions compared with group dietary education sessions. We intended to compare different intensities of dietary intervention with each other, i.e. single dietary counselling session compared with multiple dietary counselling sessions.
Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently assessed study eligibility, extracted data and assessed risk of bias of included studies. Data were checked for accuracy.
Main results: We included nine trials; 429 women (436 babies) provided outcome data. All nine included trials had small sample sizes with variation in levels of risk of bias. A total of 11 different types of dietary advice were assessed under six different comparisons, including:low-moderate glycaemic index (GI) food versus high-moderate GI food, low-GI diet versus high-fibre moderate-GI diet, energy-restricted diet versus no energy restriction diet, low-carbohydrate diet (≤ 45% daily total energy intake from carbohydrate) versus high-carbohydrate diet (≥ 50% daily total energy intake from carbohydrate), high-monounsaturated fat diet (at least 20% total energy from monounsaturated fat) versus high-carbohydrate diet (at least 50% total energy from carbohydrate), standard-fibre diet (American Diabetes Association (ADA) diet) (20 grams fibre/day) versus fibre-enriched diet (80 grams fibre/day).In the low-moderate GI food versus moderate-high GI food comparison, no significant differences were seen for macrosomia or large-for-gestational age (LGA), (two trials, 89 babies) (risk ratio (RR) 0.45, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.10 to 2.08), (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.27 to 3.36), respectively; or caesarean section (RR 0.66, 95% CI 0.29 to 1.47, one trial, 63 women).In the low-GI diet versus high-fibre moderate-GI diet comparison, no significant differences were seen for macrosomia or LGA (one trial, 92 babies) (RR 0.32, 95% CI 0.03 to 2.96), (RR 2.87, 95% CI 0.61 to 13.50), respectively; or caesarean section (RR 1.80, 95% CI 0.66 to 4.94, one trial, 88 women).In the energy-restricted versus unrestricted diet comparison, no significant differences were seen for macrosomia (RR 1.56, 95% CI 0.61 to 3.94, one trial, 122 babies); LGA (RR 1.17, 95% CI 0.65 to 2.12, one trial, 123 babies); or caesarean section (RR 1.18, 95% CI 0.74 to 1.89, one trial, 121 women).In the low- versus high-carbohydrate diet comparison, none of the 30 babies in a single trial were macrosomic; and no significant differences in caesarean section rates were seen (RR 1.40, 95% CI 0.57 to 3.43, one trial, 30 women).In the high-monounsaturated fat versus high-carbohydrate diet comparison, neither macrosomia or LGA (one trial 27 babies) (RR 0.65, 95% CI 0.91 to 2.18), (RR 0.54 95% CI 0.21 to 1.37), respectively showed significant differences. Women having a high-monounsaturated fat diet had a significantly higher body mass index (BMI) at birth (mean difference (MD) 3.90 kg/m², 95% CI 2.41 to 5.39, one trial, 27 women) and at six to nine months postpartum (MD 4.10 kg/m², 95% CI 2.34 to 5.86, one trial, 27 women) when compared with those having a high-carbohydrate diet. However, these findings were based on a single, small RCT with baseline imbalance in maternal BMI.Perinatal mortality was reported in only trial which recorded no fetal deaths in either the energy- restricted or unrestricted diet group.A single trial comparing ADA diet (20 grams gram fibre/day) with fibre-enriched fibre enriched diet (80 grams gram fibre/day) did not report any of our prespecified primary outcomes.Very limited data were reported on the prespecified outcomes for each of the six comparisons. Only one trial reported on early postnatal outcomes. No trial reported long-term health outcomes for women and their babies. No data were reported on health service cost or women's quality of life.
Authors' conclusions: Data for most comparisons were only available from single studies and they are too small for reliable conclusions about which types of dietary advice are the most suitable for women with GDM. Based on the current available evidence, we did not find any significant benefits of the diets investigated.Further larger trials with sufficient power to assess the effects of different diets for women with GDM on maternal and infant health outcomes are needed. Outcomes such as longer-term health outcomes for women and their babies, women's quality of life and health service cost should be included.