An important study highlights another risk factor for diabetes that starts even before birth. According to findings from Spanish researchers, one way to thwart the incidence of diabetes is to ensure that pregnant women eat a healthful diet that focuses on fruits and vegetables and is also low in animal fats, much like the Mediterranean diet.
According to the researchers more than half of pregnant women fail to get nutrients during pregnancy that can protect their babies from being born with already high levels of glucose and markers insulin resistance.
Francisco J. Sánchez-Muniz, researcher at the Complutense University of Madrid and one of the authors of the study explained in a press release, “…the effect during pregnancy of Western diets that vary greatly from the Mediterranean variety are not well-known."
The research, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found higher levels of glucose and markers of insulin resistance in cord blood of babies born to mothers who ate a high carbohydrate high saturated fat diet during pregnancy.
Sánchez-Muniz said it’s a surprise that women don’t change their diet when they get pregnant.
The results also showed that more than a third of women who are pregnant eat a diet that differs greatly from the Mediterranean diet.
Balanced diet important during pregnancy
"It is vital to make mothers aware of the importance of eating well during pregnancy with a balanced Mediterranean diet," adds the researcher.
"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.”
The study is also noted to be one of the few that used the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) to measure markers of insulin resistance at birth and diet during the first trimester of pregnancy.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes rates are soaring, especially in developing countries.
The WHO states that 347 million people throughout the world have diabetes. Inadequate diet, combined with inactivity and obesity are thought to be major contributors to the disease.
The most prevalent form of the disease is type 2 diabetes.
The finding, according to the researchers, confirms the importance of a healthy diet during pregnancy that can affect development of fetal pancreas that control insulin secretion. Curbing diabetes may start in the womb. Eating a healthy diet throughout your pregnancy could ensure your child won’t face the future risk of diabetes.
Gesteiro E, Rodríguez-Bernal B, Bastida S, Sánchez-Muniz FJ.
"Maternal diets with low Healthy Eating Index score and adherence to Mediterranean diet are associated with cord blood insulin and insulin resistance markers at birth".
Eur J Clin Nutr 2012; 66:1008-1015.