Comparing the screening methods for gestational diabetes mellitus before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review

Xingge Sun, Clare McKeaveney, Helen Noble, Hannah O'Hara, Oliver Perra*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is the gold standard for detecting gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, screening practices were reevaluated due to the risk of infection associated with the prolonged hospital visit required for the OGTT. Some countries have published novel screening protocols for GDM, suggesting the utilization of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), random plasma glucose (RPG), or fasting plasma glucose (FPG) in favor of OGTTs during the pandemic. Therefore, differences in screening methods before and after the epidemic need to be examined.

A systematic search was carried out across five electronic databases (Cinahl, Medline, Embase, Pubmed, and Web of Science) between 2016 and 2023. The Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) checklist for cohort studies was used to evaluate the quality of included papers.

A total of 13 eligible studies were included. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OGTT was the recommended measure to screen GDM, internationally based on various official guidelines. During the pandemic, it was recommended that HbA1c or FPG, or RPG be used as a substitute for OGTTs. However, the new methods have low sensitivity, may not reflect accurately the prevalence of GDM, and may lead to many false-negative results in women and to adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes.

The new screening methods for GDM have poor accuracy and a high risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes. Comparatively, targeted screening tests to detect GDM according to the risk level are more effective in an emergency. In the future, the alternatives to OGTTs still need to be further explored in more depth.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Diabetes Investigation
Early online date16 Dec 2023
Publication statusEarly online date - 16 Dec 2023


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