New Study Links Potatoes with Gestational Diabetes
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Apr 20, 2016
The Northern Plains Potato Growers Association has dubbed potatoes “America’s favorite vegetable,” noting that Americans consume approximately 110 pounds of potatoes per person each year. But according to a New York Times blog post, a new study indicates that women who eat more potatoes are more likely to develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
What is gestational diabetes?
Gestational diabetes is a kind of diabetes that develops only during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes have high blood sugar while pregnant, but do not otherwise suffer from diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, its cause is unknown, but it occurs when a woman’s body cannot make and use all the insulin it needs during pregnancy. Without sufficient insulin, glucose (sugar) stays in the blood instead of being converted into energy. Glucose then builds up to higher than normal levels, resulting in gestational diabetes.
The connection between potatoes and gestational diabetes
The study discussed in the Times was part of a 10-year study among women participating in a larger health study. Researchers found 854 cases of gestational diabetes among 21,693 pregnancies. The women participating in the study completed food questionnaires every four years, giving the researchers a long-term view into their diets. After adjusting for other diet and health characteristics, the researchers found that, as compared to women who ate no potatoes at all, women who ate one serving a week had a 20 percent increased risk of developing gestational diabetes. The risk increased the more potatoes the women ate. Women who ate two to four servings per week had a 27 percent increased risk, and women who ate five or more servings saw their rate of risk rise 50 percent.
Researchers caution that this study is observational, and does not establish that potatoes actually cause gestational diabetes. Nor do they know why potatoes seem to have this effect. The study’s authors suggest it may be because potatoes have a high glycemic index, meaning that they cause blood glucose levels to rise rapidly when eaten. One of the authors recommends that women who are contemplating pregnancy try to replace potatoes in their diets with whole grains or other kinds of vegetables.
How to treat gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes is a serious pregnancy complication. The American Diabetes Association explains that, if left untreated, extra blood glucose from the mother crosses the placenta into the baby’s blood. The baby therefore gets more energy than it needs to grow and develop, and this extra energy is ultimately stored as fat. This can lead to a condition called macrosomia in the baby, which can lead to other health complications.
Generally, women are tested for gestational diabetes between the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. Treatment is focused on keeping blood sugar levels low, and can include special meal plans and scheduled physical activity. It may also include daily blood glucose monitoring and insulin injections. Women with gestational diabetes should work closely with their doctors, nurses, and other health professionals to keep their diabetes in check and keep themselves and their babies healthy.
At Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C., we admire the efforts of those who conducted the study. Furthermore, we are happy to assist anyone who believes they may have a claim for medical malpractice in Pennsylvania. Contact us today.