With the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in women of childbearing age, prescribing antidiabetic medications in first-trimester pregnancy is becoming more common. Metformin treatment during this time is usually avoided in countries with well-resourced healthcare. This is based on historical concerns about safety to the foetus and the widespread availability of insulin. However, there is now increasing interest in the potential benefits of metformin in pregnant women with T2DM. In this commentary, the main evidence supporting metformin safety in pregnancy is summarized, with an emphasis on the first trimester. Based on a structured literature search, the recent randomized controlled trials comparing metformin and insulin are reviewed. We then show that prescribing advice for metformin in pregnancy is inconsistent and product information/package inserts (PI) are universally out of date. This causes confusion and pushes some women and their clinicians to change from metformin to insulin. The potential advantages of metformin in pregnant women with T2DM are then discussed, including oral dosing and improved acceptability, lower resource utilization and cost, decreased insulin requirements, less maternal weight gain and less risk of maternal and neonatal hypoglycaemia. The conclusion is that metformin is a cheap and efficacious antidiabetic medication for many pregnant women with T2DM, with reasonable evidence for safety. Drug information resources should be updated so that metformin can be considered more broadly in women with T2DM who present for antenatal care.
- birth defects
- type 2 diabetes mellitus