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Year : 2023  |  Volume : 28  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 59-65

Systematic review of the use of metformin compared to insulin for the management of gestational diabetes: Implications for low-resource settings

1 Sioux Lookout Local Education Group, Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada; Medical Student, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
2 Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre, Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada
3 Division of Clinical Sciences, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence Address:
MD, M Clin Sci Len Kelly
Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre, Sioux Lookout, Ontario
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cjrm.cjrm_40_22

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Introduction: This systematic review examines the effectiveness of metformin treatment compared to insulin treatment for gestational diabetes within the context of a low-resource environment. Methods: Electronic data searches of Medline, EMBASE, Scopus and Google scholar databases from 1 January, 2005 to 30 June, 2021 were performed using medical subject headings: 'gestational diabetes or pregnancy diabetes mellitus' AND 'Pregnancy or pregnancy outcomes' AND 'Insulin' AND 'Metformin Hydrochloride Drug Combination/or Metformin/or Hypoglycemic Agents' AND 'Glycemic control or blood glucose'. Randomized controlled trials were included if: participants were pregnant women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM); the interventions were metformin and/or insulin. Studies among women with pre-gestational diabetes, non-randomised control trials or studies with a limited description of the methodology were excluded. Outcomes included adverse maternal outcomes: weight gain, C-section, pre-eclampsia and glycaemic control and adverse neonatal outcomes: birth weight, macrosomia, pre-term birth and neonatal hypoglycaemia. The revised Cochrane Risk of Bias Assessment for randomised trials was used for the evaluation of bias. Results: We screened 164 abstracts and 36 full-text articles. Fourteen studies met the inclusion criteria. The studies provide moderate to high-quality evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of metformin as an alternative therapy to insulin. Risk of bias was low; multiple countries and robust sample sizes improved external validity. All studies were from urban centres with no rural data. Conclusion: These recent high quality studies comparing metformin to insulin for the treatment of GDM generally found either improved or equivalent pregnancy outcome and good glycaemic control for most patients, although many required insulin supplementation. Its ease of use, safety and efficacy suggest metformin may simplify the management of gestational diabetes, particularly in rural and other low-resource environments.

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