Nutritional manipulation for the primary prevention of gestational diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis of randomised studies

PLoS One. 2015 Feb 26;10(2):e0115526. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115526. eCollection 2015.


Introduction: The rise in gestational diabetes (GDM), defined as first onset or diagnosis of diabetes in pregnancy, is a global problem. GDM is often associated with unhealthy diet and is a major contributor to adverse outcomes maternal and fetal outcomes. Manipulation of nutrition has the potential to prevent GDM.

Methods: We assessed the effects of nutritional manipulation in pregnancy on GDM and relevant maternal and fetal outcomes by a systematic review of the literature. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Database from inception to March 2014 without any language restrictions. Randomised controlled trials (RCT) of nutritional manipulation to prevent GDM were included. We summarised dichotomous data as relative risk (RR) and continuous data as standardised mean difference (SMD) with 95% confidence interval (CI).

Results: From 1761 citations, 20 RCTs (6,444 women) met the inclusion criteria. We identified the following interventions: diet-based (n = 6), mixed approach (diet and lifestyle) interventions (n = 13), and nutritional supplements (myo-inositol n = 1, diet with probiotics n = 1). Diet based interventions reduced the risk of GDM by 33% (RR 0.67; 95% CI 0.39, 1.15). Mixed approach interventions based on diet and lifestyle had no effect on GDM (RR 0.95; 95% CI 0.89, 1.22). Nutritional supplements probiotics combined with diet (RR 0.40; 95% CI 0.20, 0.78) and myo-inositol (RR 0.40; 95% CI 0.16, 0.99) were assessed in one trial each and showed a beneficial effect. We observed a significant interaction between the groups based on BMI for diet-based intervention. The risk of GDM was reduced in obese and overweight pregnant women for GDM (RR 0.40, 95% CI 0.18, 0.86).

Conclusions: Nutritional manipulation in pregnancy based on diet or mixed approach do not appear to reduce the risk of GDM. Nutritional supplements show potential as agents for primary prevention of GDM.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Databases, Factual
  • Diabetes, Gestational / diagnosis
  • Diabetes, Gestational / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inositol / administration & dosage
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Obesity / complications
  • Pregnancy
  • Primary Prevention
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage
  • Risk


  • Inositol

Grant support

The authors received funding from the European Union made available to the EBM-CONNECT Collaboration through its Seventh Framework Programme, Marie Curie Actions, International Staff Exchange Scheme (proposal no. 101377; grant agreement no. 247613). None of the funding providers played a role in the planning and execution of this work, or in drafting of the article.