293 women considered at risk for gestational diabetes were assessed in the Finnish study, RADIEL. This was conducted between 2008 and 2014 across three maternity hospitals in Finland.
These risk factors included having a BMI of 30 or higher, a history of diabetes, or obesity, which is also a predictor of type 2 diabetes.
The women enrolled after less than 20 weeks of gestation – the mean period was 13 gestational weeks. 155 women were then randomly assigned to an intervention group, who received diet and exercise changes, while the remaining women received standard care.
Diagnosis of gestational diabetes was made following a 75g oral glucose test conducted at 24-28 weeks of gestation.
A significant reduction of incident gestational diabetes was observed in the intervention group. Incidence was 13.9 per cent in this group and 21.6 per cent for those who received standard care.
Doctor Saila Koivusalo, Helsinki University Hospital, said: “A simple and individualized lifestyle intervention reduced the incidence of gestational diabetes by 39 percent in high-risk pregnant women.
“One possible explanation for these excellent results is the high-risk status of the women recruited to the RADIEL study. In several previous lifestyle intervention studies the women recruited were only at a modest risk to develop GDM, or consisted of a heterogeneous group of women.”
The results of this study were published in Diabetes Care.