Random plasma glucose in early pregnancy is a better predictor of gestational diabetes diagnosis than maternal obesity

Diabetologia. 2016 Mar;59(3):445-52. doi: 10.1007/s00125-015-3811-5. Epub 2015 Nov 20.


Aims/hypothesis: Asymptomatic pregnant women are screened for gestational diabetes (GDM) at 24-28 weeks' gestation. Recent guidelines also recommend screening early in gestation to identify undiagnosed pre-existing overt diabetes. We assessed the performance of random plasma glucose (RPG) testing at antenatal booking in predicting GDM diagnosis later in pregnancy.

Methods: Data from 25,543 consecutive singleton pregnancies at the Rosie Hospital in Cambridge (UK) were obtained from hospital electronic records as a service evaluation. All women were invited for an antenatal RPG (12-16 weeks) and a 50 g glucose challenge test (GCT; 24-28 weeks) with a 75 g OGTT if GCT >7.7 mmol/l (139 mg/dl).

Results: At booking, 17,736 women had an RPG that was able to predict GDM (receiver operating characteristic AUC 0.8) according to various diagnostic criteria in common use. A cut-off point of ≥7.5 mmol/l (135 mg/dl) gave a sensitivity of 0.70 and a specificity of 0.90 for GDM diagnosis. Theoretically, using this screening policy, 13.2% of women would have been categorised at high risk (26.3% had GDM) and 86.8% of women at low risk (1.7% had GDM). RPG performed better than maternal age (AUC 0.60) or BMI (AUC 0.65) at predicting GDM diagnosis.

Conclusions/interpretation: RPG at booking has reasonable performance as a screening test and is better than maternal age or BMI for identifying women at high risk of GDM. RPG cannot replace OGTT for diagnosis but it may be useful to exclude women who do not need further investigation for GDM and to identify women who could be prioritised for early diagnosis or lifestyle interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / physiology*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / blood*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome


  • Blood Glucose