OBJECTIVE: Timely screening for hyperglycaemia in pregnancy using a simple glucose test enhances early detection and control of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). The aim of this study was to provide an overview of the evidence on the cost-effectiveness of identification and/or treatment of GDM.
METHODS: We conducted a systematic review using three electronic databases (PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane) of cost-effectiveness studies of GDM screening and treatment published during 2000-2017.
RESULTS: The initial search discovered 287 references (PubMed 86, EMBASE 195, Cochrane library 6) of which six full articles were included in the review. Two articles were model-based analysis and the remaining four were trial based. Two studies demonstrated favorable cost-effectiveness of intensified management of mild GDM. In the other included studies, neither screening nor treatment of GDM was shown to be cost effective, although results varied with the particular outcome measures used and the assumptions that where applied.
CONCLUSION: Neither screening nor treating GDM seems to be convincingly cost-effective from the studies reviewed. However, all studies were done in high-income countries with obviously different health systems than low-/middle-income countries (LMIC) have. Since detection of GDM may be relatively poor in LMIC, screening might be more worthwhile in these countries. Comprehensive research is necessary in LMIC, including the potential outcomes of assessing its cost-effectiveness. Favorable cost-effectiveness could help in bridging the need for and access to increased diabetes screening in early pregnancy in these countries.