Updates in Gestational Diabetes Prevalence, Treatment, and Health Policy

Curr Diab Rep. 2019 May 9;19(6):33. doi: 10.1007/s11892-019-1147-0.


Purpose of review: Gestational diabetes (GDM) is associated with adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes and increased maternal risk for subsequent type 2 diabetes. The best diagnostic strategy for GDM is debated and the role of oral antidiabetic medications (OAD) for treatment is unclear. In this paper, we review methods of GDM diagnosis, updates in GDM therapy, and interventions to reduce future type 2 diabetes in women with a history of GDM.

Recent findings: A "one-step" screening protocol for GDM using 75-g, 2-h oral glucose tolerance testing at 24-28 weeks gestation is recommended by the International Association of the Diabetes and Pregnancy Study Groups, the American Diabetes Association, and the Endocrine Society. This strategy identifies a milder degree of hyperglycemia and thus increases GDM prevalence. Studies indicate that in these cases of mild hyperglycemia, treatment decreases pregnancy and neonatal complications. Insulin analogues including detemir, aspart, and lispro have been shown to be safe in pregnancy with a pregnancy category B classification. Growing literature suggests that sulfonylureas cross the placenta and are associated with increased incidence of macrosomia and neonatal hypoglycemia. Telephone or online diabetes prevention program (DPP)-based interventions for women with GDM have shown encouraging results in pilot studies. Insurance coverage remains a barrier. Additional studies are needed to determine the safety of OAD in pregnancy. Public policy supporting DPP could help improve patient access to these proven interventions.

Keywords: Diabetes prevention; Gestational diabetes; Gestational diabetes treatment; Pregnancy complications; Type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
  • Diabetes, Gestational*
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prevalence