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New risk for diabetes found that starts in the womb

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Diet during pregnancy linked to increased diabetes risk for baby.

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.”

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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.

Image credit:
Wikimedia commons

Updated 12/6/2014



Very true. We are what we eat. But many people follow the indoctrination of advertisers, and the idiot box. I recently read that it is those who can least afford it, get most of their meals from outside sources. This includes fish and chips, pizza, macca's, Kentucky's, hungry's and so on. If you have a look at the cost of those meals, and compere that with what they are lacking in nutrition, you realize that you are being ripped off. Those who can least afford it financially and physically are often smokers as well. Compare that with what we are supposed to be eating, such as vegetables, legumes, pulses and such which are available for less than a tenth of the cost of takeaways and you find you improve your health as well as the size of your bank balance.
Mary - that's a good point. People say they can't afford to eat healthy?! It kind of blows my mind - why not invest just a wee bit more, eat a bit less and get more bang for your buck in nutrition? I tell my patients to make sure everything they put in their mouth is the 'Cadillac' of food and not to succumb to false hunger cues. If you eat burgers, fries and white bread, you may as well just eat Crisco and cadrboard (well not entirely, but you get my drift).
Dr. William Philpott and his team bserved that the pancreas is often directly affected by undigested proteins and fats, altering blood sugar levels of patients before and after meals. When the offending food was removed, the diabetic response vanished in conjunction with the inflammation. The offending foods were usually corn, wheat, and dairy products. It is thought that some 75% of Type 1 diabetics are allergic to their own pancreatic cells, which are responsible for insulin production. Research conducted in Australia and Italy has found a correlation between cow's milk and Type 1 diabetes in children. Bovine Serum Albumin is a protein to which some individuals are allergic, and the body attacks it. Children given cow's milk formula during the first three years of life are 52% more likely to develop Type 1 diabetes.
Yes, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, but the cause is not known. Some suspect a viral link. Autoimmune disorders are not well understood yet. The finding you reference re: cow's milk is controversial, but certainly has not yet been discounted. This may be the most recent update: http://www.bmj.com/content/321/7268/1040.5
Hi Kathleen, Thank you for your reply. Philpott, in his research found corn, wheat, and dairy products the most likely suspect. They are certainly not the only causes. Even a spinal misalignment can cause diabetes. We found people suffering from diabetes allergic to potato and tomato, both nightshade type of foods. The point is that diabetics have more chance of being allergic to dairy, 1. because it is consumed more than any other type of food, 2. the fats, sugars and proteins are in a format not easily digested.
Thanks Hans - Not 'buying' the spinal misalignment theory as a diabetes cause, though I think your whole body has to be in tune for optimal health. . :)