Lower versus Higher Glycemic Criteria for Diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes

N Engl J Med. 2022 Aug 18;387(7):587-598. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2204091.


Background: Treatment of gestational diabetes improves maternal and infant health, although diagnostic criteria remain unclear.

Methods: We randomly assigned women at 24 to 32 weeks' gestation in a 1:1 ratio to be evaluated for gestational diabetes with the use of lower or higher glycemic criteria for diagnosis. The lower glycemic criterion was a fasting plasma glucose level of at least 92 mg per deciliter (≥5.1 mmol per liter), a 1-hour level of at least 180 mg per deciliter (≥10.0 mmol per liter), or a 2-hour level of at least 153 mg per deciliter (≥8.5 mmol per liter). The higher glycemic criterion was a fasting plasma glucose level of at least 99 mg per deciliter (≥5.5 mmol per liter) or a 2-hour level of at least 162 mg per deciliter (≥9.0 mmol per liter). The primary outcome was the birth of an infant who was large for gestational age (defined as a birth weight above the 90th percentile according to Fenton-World Health Organization standards). Secondary outcomes were maternal and infant health.

Results: A total of 4061 women underwent randomization. Gestational diabetes was diagnosed in 310 of 2022 women (15.3%) in the lower-glycemic-criteria group and in 124 of 2039 women (6.1%) in the higher-glycemic-criteria group. Among 2019 infants born to women in the lower-glycemic-criteria group, 178 (8.8%) were large for gestational age, and among 2031 infants born to women in the higher-glycemic-criteria group, 181 (8.9%) were large for gestational age (adjusted relative risk, 0.98; 95% confidence interval, 0.80 to 1.19; P = 0.82). Induction of labor, use of health services, use of pharmacologic agents, and neonatal hypoglycemia were more common in the lower-glycemic-criteria group than in the higher-glycemic-criteria group. The results for the other secondary outcomes were similar in the two trial groups, and there were no substantial between-group differences in adverse events. Among the women in both groups who had glucose test results that fell between the lower and higher glycemic criteria, those who were treated for gestational diabetes (195 women), as compared with those who were not (178 women), had maternal and infant health benefits, including fewer large-for-gestational-age infants.

Conclusions: The use of lower glycemic criteria for the diagnosis of gestational diabetes did not result in a lower risk of a large-for-gestational-age infant than the use of higher glycemic criteria. (Funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand and others; GEMS Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry number, ACTRN12615000290594.).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Blood Glucose* / analysis
  • Diabetes, Gestational* / blood
  • Diabetes, Gestational* / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia* / blood
  • Hyperglycemia* / diagnosis
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy


  • Blood Glucose

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12615000290594