The Influence of Maternal Folate Status on Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Nutrients. 2023 Jun 16;15(12):2766. doi: 10.3390/nu15122766.


Maternal folate has been shown to relate to the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). However, the existing studies have yielded inconsistent conclusions. The purpose of this study was to systematically review the association between maternal folate status and the risk of GDM. Observational studies up to 31 October 2022 were included. Study characteristics, the means and standard deviations (SDs) of folate levels (serum/red blood cell (RBC)), the odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and the time for folate measurement were extracted. Compared with the non-GDM group, serum and RBC folate levels in women with GDM were significantly higher. Our subgroup analysis demonstrated that serum folate levels in the GDM group were significantly higher than in the non-GDM group only in the second trimester. RBC folate levels in the GDM group were significantly higher than in the non-GDM group in the first and second trimesters. Taking serum/RBC folate levels as continuous variables, the adjusted odds ratios of GDM risk showed that increased serum folate concentration rather than RBC folate elevated the risk of GDM. In the descriptive analysis, five studies reported high serum folate levels increased GDM risk, whereas the other five showed no association between serum folate levels and GDM risk. Moreover, the rest three studies pointed out high RBC folate levels increased GDM risk. Altogether we found that the risk of GDM is associated with high serum/plasma and RBC folate levels. Future studies should determine the recommended folic acid cutoff balancing the risk for GDM and fetal malformations.

Keywords: GDM risk; different stage of pregnancy; folate; gestational diabetes mellitus; meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes, Gestational*
  • Female
  • Folic Acid
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy


  • Folic Acid