High-fat, low-carb diet during pregnancy can predispose baby to diabetes

Most pregnant women have a general awareness of diet do's and don'ts.

However, new research shows that the average Western diet--if left unchecked--could predispose an unborn child to diabetes. And, according to the study, American mothers aren't taking enough preventative measures.

The research, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that it's not necessarily what a mother eats that's so important, though the quality of food consumed should not be ignored. It's the ratio between fats, proteins and carbohydrates that's so critical to a baby's health.

Western diet problems

The standard Western diet is high in fat and low in vegetable-based carbs, says Francisco J. Sánchez-Muniz, researcher at the Complutense University of Madrid and author of the study. In turn, this can cause rising insulin and glucose levels in the unborn fetus--predisposing the child to developing diabetes later in life.

"The effect during pregnancy of Western diets that vary greatly from the Mediterranean variety are not well-known," said Sánchez-Muniz.

The study found that women with diets that balance energy well--rich with lean proteins and healthy carbs--birth children of normal weights. But American women don't tend to follow these eating habits, which can result in a child being born with a diabetogenic profile: high levels of serum glucose and the risk of insulin resistance.

Sánchez-Muniz stresses the importance of educating mothers on the quality of their diets during pregnancy:

"It is vital to make mothers aware of the importance of eating well during pregnancy with a balanced Mediterranean diet. 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."

Source: Science Daily

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