The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Diets High in Animal Fat Increase Risk of Gestational Diabetes

Posted on February 07, 2012 by Nina Casalena, The VRG Blog Editor

Gestational diabetes is a kind of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy. It can cause problems during pregnancy and in the newborn infant. Risk factors for gestational diabetes include being overweight, having a family history of diabetes, and ethnicity. Hispanics, African Americans, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, Asians, and Asian Indians are at higher risk for developing this condition.

A just-published study examined dietary factors that could increase a woman’s risk of developing gestational diabetes. Women who ate the highest amount of animal fat before they were pregnant had about a 90% greater risk of developing gestational diabetes compared with women eating the lowest amount of animal fat. There was no association between vegetable fat and gestational diabetes. Cholesterol was also associated with an increased risk. The study authors suggest that even as simple a change as replacing 5% of animal fat with vegetable fat could reduce risk of diabetes. While women cannot change risk factors like ethnicity or family history of diabetes, moving away from (or eliminating) animal fat could markedly change their risk of gestational diabetes. "Our findings indicate that women who reduce the proportion of animal fat and cholesterol in their diets before pregnancy may lower their risk for gestational diabetes during pregnancy," said senior author Cuilin Zhang, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., of the Epidemiology Branch at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).

To read more about this study see: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/jan2012/nichd-25.htm

For more information on vegan diets in pregnancy see our website: http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/veganpregnancy.php, and the newly-available book, The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book.

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