Expecting? Hold the Potatoes

Potato consumption before pregnancy linked to gestational diabetes risk

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Moms-to-be, here's one reason why you may want to trade that plate of fries for some veggies.

High potato consumption before pregnancy may be linked to a significantly increased risk of gestational diabetes (GD), a new study found. GD is a form of diabetes that only develops during pregnancy, usually around the 24th week.

"Higher levels of potato consumption before pregnancy are associated with greater risk of GD, and substitution of potatoes with other vegetables, legumes, or whole grain foods might lower the risk," wrote lead study author Wei Bao, MD, PhD, of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and colleagues.

GD is a common pregnancy complication that has long-term health risks for both mothers and babies, if left untreated. Babies born to mothers with GD also become children who are at risk for obesity and adults who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 9.2 percent of mothers will develop GD during one of their pregnancies.

For this study, Dr. Bao and team looked at 15,632 women who participated in the Nurses' Health Study II and became pregnant between 1991 and 2001. These women had no history of GD or chronic disease before pregnancy.

Consumption of potatoes and other foods was assessed every four years. Cases of GD were self-reported and then validated with medical records.

During the 10-year follow-up period, 21,693 pregnancies occurred. About 850 were affected by GD.

After accounting for other factors, such as age, family history of diabetes, physical activity, overall diet quality and body mass index (BMI), Dr. Bao and team found that high potato consumption was linked to a significantly greater risk of GD.

Substituting two servings of potatoes per week with other vegetables, legumes or whole grains was linked to a 9 to 12 percent lower risk.

This study was published Jan. 12 in the journal The BMJ.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institutes of Health funded this research.

No conflicts of interest were disclosed.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 13, 2016
Last Updated:
January 18, 2016