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Healthy Diet and Normal Weight can Lower Risk of Gestational Diabetes

Healthy Diet and Normal Weight can Lower Risk of Gestational Diabetes

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  • Gestational diabetes is a condition that occurs during pregnancy and can cause health problems in both mother and baby
  • South Asian women are at higher risk of developing gestational diabetes
  • Pre-pregnancy weight and a low-quality diet play a key role in increasing the risk among South Asian women, finds a study

South Asian women are at higher risk for gestational diabetes, finds a study by a research team at the McMaster University. The study also suggested that a low-quality and pre-pregnancy weight could reduce the risk of gestational diabetes

The study called the South Asian Birth Cohort (START) was led by Sonia Anand, professor of medicine at McMaster's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and senior scientist at the Population Health Research Institute of Hamilton Health Sciences and McMaster University.


Healthy Diet and Normal Weight can Lower Risk of Gestational Diabetes

The study was conducted among South Asian women in Ontario. The research team found that pre-pregnancy weight and low-quality diet increased the risk of gestational diabetes by 37 percent.

Risk of Gestational Diabetes among South Asian Women

The study was based on data from the START Birth Cohort study. More than 1,000 women in their second trimester of pregnancy from Ontario's Region of Peel participated in the study.

The START study collected health information, physical measurements and glucose tolerance test from the women. The team also obtained babies information on birth weight, skinfold thickness, cord blood glucose and insulin levels.

Some of the major risk factors that contributed to gestational diabetes among South Asian women included age, family history of type 2 diabetes and maternal height.

Modifiable risk factors like pre-pregnancy weight and low-diet quality also increased the risk of gestational diabetes.

A low-quality diet includes higher consumption of meat (red meat, chicken, and processed meat), rice, fried foods and lower consumption of fruits and vegetables. A high-quality diet was associated with higher consumption of legumes, whole grains, and vegetables.

"Our study suggests that if South Asian women could achieve an optimal pre-pregnancy weight and improve their diet quality, approximately one-third of gestational diabetes in this demographic could be prevented," said Anand, who is also a cardiologist and director of the Chanchlani Research Centre at McMaster.

The study highlights the importance of healthy eating and maintaining healthy weight among South Asian women who are considering pregnancy.

"To our knowledge, public health messaging regarding pre-pregnancy weight and diet quality is not routinely provided by primary care physicians or public health specialists, and requires an integrated approach involving primary health-care sector and policy initiatives," said Anand.

In future, intervention studies will be conducted to determine whether lowering pre-pregnancy weight and optimizing diet quality during pregnancy can reduce the high rates of gestational diabetes in this high-risk population.

The findings of the study are published in Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) Open.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes is a complication that occurs during pregnancy. It affects how the cells use glucose and result in high blood sugar levels. Gestational diabetes can affect pregnancy and the baby's health. Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes have increased birth weight, higher body fat and lower insulin sensitivity. Pregnant women with gestational diabetes are more likely to undergo a cesarean section.

The blood sugar levels usually return to normal soon after the delivery. But, gestational diabetes can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes Pregnant women with gestational diabetes can control blood sugar levels by eating healthy foods and exercising.

Complications of Gestational Diabetes

Risk for the baby
  • Excessive birth weight
  • Preterm birth
  • Respiratory distress syndrome
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Type 2 diabetes later in life
Risk for the mother

Tips to Prevent Gestational Diabetes

Eat healthily - Opt for foods that are high in fiber and low in fat. Include more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

Stay active - Exercising before and during pregnancy can lower the risk of gestational diabetes. Engage in moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes a day.

Shed excess weight - It is important to shed extra kilos for a healthier pregnancy.
Reference :
  1. Gestational Diabetes - (https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/what-is-diabetes/gestational)
Source: Medindia

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