Screening for gestational diabetes mellitus in primary versus secondary care: The clinical outcomes of a randomised controlled trial

Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2016 Jul:117:55-63. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2016.04.023. Epub 2016 Apr 25.


Aims: To examine the clinical outcomes of screening for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in primary care versus secondary care, in the Irish healthcare system.

Design and methods: A parallel group randomised controlled trial (RCT) of screening for GDM in primary versus secondary care was used to examine (i) prevalence, (ii) gestational week of screen, (iii) time to access specialist care, and (iv) maternal and neonatal outcomes. In total 781 women were recruited for screening in primary care (n=391) or secondary care (n=390).

Results: The prevalence of GDM and gestational week of screen were similar in both locations. There was a trend towards a longer time to access diabetes care in primary care (24days) versus secondary care (19days), a difference of 5days (p=0.09). Women screened in primary care also showed a trend towards a higher rate of large for gestational age (LGA) infants (20%) than those screened in secondary care (14.7%), (p=0.09). There were no differences between groups in maternal outcomes.

Conclusions: This RCT suggests that screening for GDM in secondary care may be associated with potentially faster time to access specialist antenatal diabetes care and possibly lower LGA rates. Further research is needed to clarify these findings and to improve the delay in accessing specialist care requires an urgent focus. Further research is needed to test these findings in other health systems.

Keywords: Clinical outcomes; GDM; Gestational diabetes mellitus; Primary care; Screening.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diabetes, Gestational / blood
  • Diabetes, Gestational / diagnosis*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / therapy
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening*
  • Pregnancy
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Secondary Care*