Oct 25, 2016 | Updated: 09:37 AM EST

High Potato Diet Increases Risk For Gestational Diabetes, New Study Suggests

Jan 18, 2016 10:25 PM EST

Just before pregnant mothers crave for French fries or potato salads, you might want to consider this emerging research. A new study suggests that expectant mothers who consume plenty of potatoes might potentially to develop gestational diabetes.

This was proven by a decade-long (1991–2001) experiment conducted to more than thousands of women with no prior diagnosis of gestational diabetes or any serious illness before pregnancy. Every 4 years, researchers assessed women's overall diet by letting them complete food questionnaires.

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Over the 10-year long period, 854 cases of gestational diabetes were reported out of the 21,693 pregnant women. After considering possible confounding factors such as age, dietary and non-dietary factors and parity, researchers found that pregnant women who consumed more potatoes are likely to develop gestational diabetes. Consuming one serving in a week can increase risk to 20 percent, 27 percent in two to four servings and 50 percent in five and above.

Gestational diabetes is a condition where blood glucose or sugar levels increased above normal. Usually, it goes away when the mother gives birth, but it can still pose harmful effects both on mothers and babies. Worse, if this is left unmanaged, it can result to premature death and miscarriage.

In every 100 pregnancies in UK, at least three suffer from gestational diabetes. Common manifestations include dry mouth, frequent urination and fatigue. While diet and exercise can relieve some, others are reluctant on medication for treatment.

The reason for such causal relationship has not been known yet; however, study authors suggest it might be caused by the potatoes' high glycemic index, which spikes blood glucose levels when eaten. Of note, there is no concrete basis of their association and the study is only observational.

Nevertheless, National Institutes of Health epidemiologist Dr. Cuilin Zhang warned pregnant women to take extra caution when eating potatoes. If possible, whole grain or vegetables can substitute for these products.

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