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The Prevention of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Through Lifestyle Intervention

Sep 4, 2015

Moderate intensity physical activity said to decrease further complications during labor…

Obesity is strongly correlated with gestational diabetes, which affects 2-18% of all pregnancies worldwide. Gestational diabetes and obesity are both independently correlated with adverse maternal and neonatal effects. Maternal overweight and gestational diabetes can increase the chance of the offspring’s predisposition to obesity, making a continuous cycle leading to an increase of obesity globally. There is a great need for intervention to prevent the risk of gestational diabetes.


The aim of the study is to evaluate whether gestational diabetes can be prevented by a modest intervention in pregnant women who are at an increased risk of the disease. The trial was designed as a randomized study that consisted of 293 women with a history of gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes was diagnosed based upon a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test at weeks 24-28 of gestation. The women were divided into two groups, the intervention group or the control group. The intervention group received individualized nutrition recommendation from a dietitian and physical activity. The participants from the intervention group were required to consume products rich in fiber, low-fat dairy products, and low-fat meat products. Also, their physical activity goal was to achieve a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. The control group received standard antenatal care.

The results showed that a total of 269 women were included in the study. The incidence of gestational diabetes in the intervention group and control group was 13.9% and 21.6% (95% CI 0.40-0.98%), respectively. Gestational weight gain was decreased in the intervention group (-0.58kg (95% CI -1.112 to -0.04kg). The participants from the intervention group improved their dietary quality and engaged in more physical activities in comparison to the participants from the control group.

To conclude, women who are high risk and engage in moderate, individualized lifestyle intervention decrease the chance of gestational diabetes by 39%. The results of this study have a major health outcome for a mother as well as the child. One of the major limitations to the study was that it was performed in a white Caucasian population. This decreased the external validity of the study.

Practical Pearls:

  • Individualized lifestyle intervention can decrease the risk of gestational diabetes.
  • Women diagnosed with gestational diabetes should engage in 150 minutes moderate intensity physical activities to decrease further complications during labor.
  • Women with gestational diabetes can predispose their offspring to obesity.

Koivusalo SB, Rönö K, Klemetti MM, et al. “Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Can Be Prevented by Lifestyle Intervention: The Finnish Gestational Diabetes Prevention Study (RADIEL): A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Diabetes Care. 2015.