Potatoes Associated to Diabetes in Pregnancy

Potatoes Associated to Diabetes in Pregnancy


Consumption of potato before pregnancy has been linked to diabetes (gestational diabetes mellitus or GDM) risk during pregnancy in a recent study. Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a common complication of pregnancy characterized by glucose intolerance with onset or first recognition during pregnancy. ‘Previous studies have found that a diet with a higher glycemic index is related to higher plasma glucose and HbA1c concentrations during pregnancy and could increase the risk of GDM’ says the researchers.

They agree that ‘potatoes are rich in vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, and some phytochemicals but pointed out that ‘they can have detrimental effects on glucose metabolism because they contain large amounts of rapidly absorbable starch’. Potatoes remains the third most commonly consumed food crop in the world, after rice and wheat. In the United States for instance, about 35% of women of reproductive age consume potatoes daily, accounting for 8% of daily total energy intake.

The researcher suggests ‘swapping potatoes for other vegetables or whole grains’ as it will help to lower the risk of diabetes. The author suggest that food items such as peas, beans and lentils, or whole grain foods might lower the risk of diabetes and advises soon to be pregnant women to substitute potatoes for these food items to avoid of diabetes during pregnancy. The researcher emphases that gestational diabetes is a common pregnancy complication that has long term health risks for both mothers and babies’. However, they could not point out the association between potato consumption and risk of gestational diabetes remains.

The researchers made use of 15,632 women ‘who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study II and who became pregnant over a 10-year period (1991-2001) and had no previous gestational diabetes or chronic disease before pregnancy. ‘Consumption of potatoes and other foods was assessed every four years and cases of gestational diabetes were ascertained from self-reports of a physician diagnosis of GDM, which was validated by medical records. Over the 10 year follow-up period, the team identified 21,693 singleton pregnancies of which 854 were affected by gestational diabetes. After taking account of other risk factors for gestational diabetes such as age, family history of diabetes, physical activity, overall diet quality, and BMI, they found that higher total potato consumption was significantly associated with an increased risk of gestational diabetes. However, substituting two servings of potatoes a week with other vegetables, legumes, or whole grain foods was significantly associated with a 9-12% lower risk’says BMI reporter.

The authors point out that potatoes have a high glycaemic index compared with other vegetables, so can trigger a sharp rise in blood sugar levels, and this could be one explanation for the findings.

The researchers concluded that ‘, pre-pregnancy potato consumption was significantly and positively associated with the risk of incident GDM and that substitution of potatoes with other vegetables, legumes, or whole grain foods was associated with a lower risk of GDM.’ They however subject their findings to further confirmation in a more intervention studies and randomized controlled trials.



BMJ Article: ‘Potato consumption before pregnancy linked to diabetes ‘risk during pregnancy

Journal of C Zhang Etal: Pre-pregnancy potato consumption and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus: prospective cohort study

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