Gestational Diabetes Mellitus in Europe: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Prevalence Studies

Marília Silva Paulo, Noor Motea Abdo, Rita Bettencourt-Silva, Rami H. Al-Rifai

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

67 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) is defined as the type of hyperglycemia diagnosed for the first-time during pregnancy, presenting with intermediate glucose levels between normal levels for pregnancy and glucose levels diagnostic of diabetes in the non-pregnant state. We aimed to systematically review and meta-analyze studies of prevalence of GDM in European countries at regional and sub-regional levels, according to age, trimester, body weight, and GDM diagnostic criteria. Methods: Systematic search was conducted in five databases to retrieve studies from 2014 to 2019 reporting the prevalence of GDM in Europe. Two authors have independently screened titles and abstracts and full text according to eligibility using Covidence software. A random-effects model was used to quantify weighted GDM prevalence estimates. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute criteria was used to assess the risk of bias. Results: From the searched databases, 133 research reports were deemed eligible and included in the meta-analysis. The research reports yielded 254 GDM-prevalence studies that tested 15,572,847 pregnant women between 2014 and 2019. The 133 research reports were from 24 countries in Northern Europe (44.4%), Southern Europe (27.1%), Western Europe (24.1%), and Eastern Europe (4.5%). The overall weighted GDM prevalence in the 24 European countries was estimated at 10.9% (95% CI: 10.0–11.8, I2: 100%). The weighted GDM prevalence was highest in the Eastern Europe (31.5%, 95% CI: 19.8–44.6, I2: 98.9%), followed by in Southern Europe (12.3%, 95% CI: 10.9–13.9, I2: 99.6%), Western Europe (10.7%, 95% CI: 9.5–12.0, I2: 99.9%), and Northern Europe (8.9%, 95% CI: 7.9–10.0, I2: 100). GDM prevalence was 2.14-fold increased in pregnant women with maternal age ≥30 years (versus 15-29 years old), 1.47-fold if the diagnosis was made in the third trimester (versus second trimester), and 6.79- fold in obese and 2.29-fold in overweight women (versus normal weight). Conclusions: In Europe, GDM is significant in pregnant women, around 11%, with the highest prevalence in pregnant women of Eastern European countries (31.5%). Findings have implications to guide vigilant public health awareness campaigns about the risk factors associated with developing GDM. Systematic Review Registration: PROSPERO [], identifier CRD42020161857.

Original languageEnglish
Article number691033
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
Publication statusPublished - Dec 9 2021


  • Europe
  • GDM
  • Gestational Diabetes Mellitus
  • diabetes mellitus
  • meta-analysis
  • pregnancy complications
  • pregnancy hyperglycemia
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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