Maternal subclinical hypothyroidsm and gestational diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis

Endocr Pract. 2014 Jul;20(7):703-14. doi: 10.4158/EP13440.RA.


Objective: The association between subclinical hypothyroidism (SCH) and gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is controversial. This review evaluates whether the risk of GDM is different in pregnant women with SCH compared to euthyroid pregnant women.

Methods: A computerized search of the MEDLINE and EMBASE databases was conducted from their inceptions to July 2013 and was complemented with the perusal of the reference sections of the retrieved articles. Prespecified criteria were applied to assess eligibility, and standard meta-analytic methodology was employed for evidence synthesis.

Results: Six cohort studies, reporting data on 35,350 pregnant women (1,216 women with SCH), were identified. The risk of GDM in pregnant women with SCH was found to be substantially higher compared to euthyroid pregnant women (5 studies, pooled unadjusted odds ratio [OR]: 1.35, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.05-1.75, I2: 41%, Harbord test P = .44). Similarly, the risk of GDM was estimated to be significantly higher in pregnant women with SCH when using adjusted estimates (3 studies, pooled adjusted OR: 1.39, 95% CI: 1.07-1.79, I2: 0%). Neither finding remained significant in sensitivity analyses.

Conclusion: A modestly increased risk of GDM might be present in pregnant women with SCH compared to euthyroid pregnant women. Assuming a 5% baseline risk of GDM and that SCH increases the risk of GDM by 50% (in odds) compared to a euthyroid population, then there would be 1 extra case of GDM in every 43 pregnant women with SCH. This preliminary finding warrants further investigation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes, Gestational / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothyroidism / complications*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*