Does a mother’s diet influence a baby’s chance of developing diabetes?

by Barbara Hewitt on December 10, 2012

Does a mother’s diet influence a baby’s chance of developing diabetes?

Research has shown that an incorrect diet during pregnancy, one that is high in animal fats results, may see babies being born with already high levels of glucose. Scientists now want to do more research to follow up babies and find out if this affects their chances of developing diabetes and other metabolic conditions.

The study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that maternal diet quality during pregnancy is fundamental to insulin and glucose levels at birth. Researchers suggest that pregnant women should eat a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish and low in saturated fats like the Mediterranean diet.

Women who do not eat properly during pregnancy may have babies with a diabetogenic profile and scientists say that this confirms the influence of the diet on foetal pancreas development as well as glucose and insulin concentration at birth. ‘It is vital to make mothers aware of the importance of eating well during pregnancy with a balanced Mediterranean style diet,’ said Francisco Sánchez-Muniz, researcher at the Complutense University of Madrid and one of the authors of the study.

‘More than half of women have low quality diets that include a high amount of animal products rich in saturated fats yet a low amount of carbohydrates from vegetables and pulses. Furthermore, more than a third of women displayed eating habits that differ greatly from the Mediterranean diet. It is surprising that women do not change their eating habits or diet quality during pregnancy,’ he said.

He now wants more work to be done on the subject. ‘We must also push for studies amongst the same population group in order to understand how children will develop over time and thus avoid, or at least mitigate, the development of high prevalence diseases within our society,’ he added.

Quote from DiabetesForum.com : “If you plan to or are pregnant now, taking care(if possible)to get your sugars under control is vital for you and the Baby. That cannot be said enough. True, any Mom-to-be can have a scary, or even heart-breaking pregnancy but of course, more so when the Women has Diabetes.”

Previous studies have already outlined that when the mother does not consume enough food during pregnancy, the glucose supply to other tissues is reduced in the foetus to ensure that the brain receives the correct amount. This in turn can result in reduced foetal growth.

‘However, the effects of an imbalance between fats, proteins and carbohydrates are not as well-known. In others words, the effect during pregnancy of Western diets that vary greatly from the Mediterranean variety are not well known,’ added Sánchez-Muniz.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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