Prevalence of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus in the Middle East and North Africa, 2000–2019: A Systematic Review, Meta-Analysis, and Meta-Regression

Rami H. Al-Rifai, Noor Motea Abdo, Marília Silva Paulo, Sumanta Saha, Luai A. Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Women in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are burdened with several risk factors related to gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) including overweight and high parity. We systematically reviewed the literature and quantified the weighted prevalence of GDM in MENA at the regional, subregional, and national levels. Studies published from 2000 to 2019 reporting the prevalence of GDM in the MENA region were retrieved and were assessed for their eligibility. Overall and subgroup pooled prevalence of GDM was quantified by random-effects meta-analysis. Sources of heterogeneity were investigated by meta-regression. The risk of bias (RoB) was assessed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s tool. One hundred and two research articles with 279,202 tested pregnant women for GDM from 16 MENA countries were included. Most of the research reports sourced from Iran (36.3%) and Saudi Arabia (21.6%), with an overall low RoB. In the 16 countries, the pooled prevalence of GDM was 13.0% (95% confidence interval [CI], 11.5–14.6%, I2, 99.3%). Nationally, GDM was highest in Qatar (20.7%, 95% CI, 15.2–26.7% I2, 99.0%), whereas subregionally, GDM was highest in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries (14.7%, 95% CI, 13.0–16.5%, I2, 99.0%). The prevalence of GDM was high in pregnant women aged ≥30 years (21.9%, 95% CI, 18.5–25.5%, I2, 97.1%), in their third trimester (20.0%, 95% CI, 13.1–27.9%, I2, 98.8%), and who were obese (17.2%, 95% CI, 12.8–22.0%, I2, 93.8%). The prevalence of GDM was 10.6% (95% CI, 8.1–13.4%, I2, 98.9%) in studies conducted before 2009, whereas it was 14.0% (95% CI, 12.1–16.0%, I2, 99.3%) in studies conducted in or after 2010. Pregnant women in the MENA region are burdened with a substantial prevalence of GDM, particularly in GCC and North African countries. Findings have implications for maternal health in the MENA region and call for advocacy to unify GDM diagnostic criteria.

Original languageEnglish
Article number668447
JournalFrontiers in Endocrinology
Publication statusPublished - Aug 26 2021


  • MENA region
  • gestational diabetes mellitus
  • meta-analysis
  • prevalence
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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