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Potato consumption linked to gestational diabetes

Potato consumption linked to gestational diabetes - Featured Image

A study published in the BMJ has found a link between a woman’s pre-pregnancy consumption of potatoes and her chances of suffering gestational diabetes.

The researchers from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and Harvard University tracked 15,632 women over a 10-year period, which resulted in 21,693 singleton pregnancies.

Of these pregnancies, 854 were affected by gestational diabetes.

After taking into account risk factors such as age, family history of diabetes, diet quality, physical activity and BMI, researchers found that higher total potato consumption was significantly associated with a risk of gestational diabetes.

Related: Who’s responsible for the care of women during and after a pregnancy affected by gestational diabetes?

The researchers found that if women substituted two servings of potatoes a week with other vegetables, wholegrains or legumes, there is a 9-12% lower risk of contracting gestational diabetes.

They say one explanation of the findings is that potatoes have a high glycaemic index which can trigger a rise in blood sugar levels thanks to the high starch content.

Related: Odds, risks and appropriate diagnosis of gestational diabetes: comment

The most recent Australian dietary guidelines released in 2015 say Australians need to eat less starchy vegetables.

The authors of the study admit that the observational nature of their study means no definite conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect.

However, they conclude: “Higher levels of potato consumption before pregnancy are associated with greater risk of GDM, and substitution of potatoes with other vegetables, legumes, or whole grain foods might lower the risk.”

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