Applying Current Screening Tools for Gestational Diabetes Mellitus to a European Population—Is it Time for Change?

  1. for the ATLANTIC DIP Collaborators
  1. Department of Medicine, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
  1. Corresponding author: Gloria Avalos, gloria.avalos{at}


OBJECTIVE The optimal screening regimen for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) remains controversial. Risk factors used in selective screening guidelines vary. Given that universal screening is not currently adopted in our European population, we aimed to evaluate which selective screening strategies were most applicable.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Between 2007 and 2009, 5,500 women were universally screened for GDM, and a GDM prevalence of 12.4% using International Association of Diabetes in Pregnancy Study Groups (IADPSG) criteria was established. We retrospectively applied selective screening guidelines to this cohort.

RESULTS When we applied National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), Irish, and American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines, 54% (2,576), 58% (2,801), and 76% (3,656) of women, respectively, had at least one risk factor for GDM and would have undergone testing. However, when NICE, Irish, and ADA guidelines were applied, 20% (120), 16% (101), and 5% (31) women, respectively, had no risk factor and would have gone undiagnosed. Using a BMI ≥30 kg/m2 for screening has a specificity of 81% with moderate sensitivity at 48%. Reducing the BMI to ≥25 kg/m2 (ADA) increases the sensitivity to 80% with a specificity of 44%. Women with no risk factors diagnosed with GDM on universal screening had more adverse pregnancy outcomes than those with normal glucose tolerance.

CONCLUSIONS This analysis provides a strong argument for universal screening. However, if selective screening were adopted, the ADA guidelines would result in the highest rate of diagnosis and the lowest number of missed cases.

  • Received January 4, 2013.
  • Accepted April 3, 2013.

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  1. Diabetes Care
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