Systematic Review of Lifestyle Interventions for Gestational Diabetes Mellitus in Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period

Shuyuan Huang, Cherlie Magny-Normilus, Erin McMahon, Robin Whittemore

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Objective: To examine the characteristics and effectiveness of lifestyle interventions for gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in pregnancy and the postpartum period to prevent Type 2 diabetes. Data Sources: We conducted searches in seven databases, including Ovid MEDLINE, CINAHL, Ovid Embase, Cochrane Central, Web of Science, Ovid PsycInfo, and ProQuest Dissertations and Theses for articles published from inception to January 2021. Study Selection: We included articles on controlled intervention studies in which researchers evaluated a lifestyle intervention provided during pregnancy and the postpartum period for women with or at risk for GDM that were published in English. Data Extraction: Twelve articles that were reports of seven studies met the inclusion criteria. In some cases, more than one article was selected from the same study. For example, articles reported different outcomes from the same study. We extracted data with the use of a data collection form and compared and synthesized data on study design, purpose, sample, intervention characteristics, recruitment and retention, and outcomes. Data Synthesis: All seven studies focused on weight management and/or healthy lifestyle behaviors (diet and physical activity). Outcomes included glucose regulation, weight, lifestyle behaviors, and knowledge. The interventions varied in duration/dosage, strategies, and modes of delivery. In four studies, researchers reported interventions that had significant effects on improving glucose regulation and/or weight change. Some characteristics from the four effective interventions included goal setting, individualized care, and good retention rates. In the other three studies, limitations included low rates of participant retention, lack of personalized interventions, and limited population diversity or lack of culturally sensitive care. Conclusion: Lifestyle interventions provided during and after pregnancy to reduce the risk associated with GDM have the potential to improve outcomes. Health care counseling to promote healthy lifestyle behaviors related to the prevention of Type 2 diabetes is needed at different stages of maternity care for women with GDM. Additional high-quality studies are needed to address the limitations of current studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-125
Number of pages11
JournalJOGNN - Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • diabetes prevention
  • gestational diabetes
  • lifestyle
  • postpartum period
  • pregnancy
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Critical Care
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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