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Date:1/25/2012

Women who consumed a diet high in animal fat and cholesterol before pregnancy were at higher risk for gestational diabetes than women whose diets were lower in animal fat and cholesterol, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health and Harvard University.

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes seen during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes increases the risk for certain pregnancy complications and health problems in the newborn.

Women whose diets were high in total fat or other kinds of fatsbut not in animal fat or cholesteroldid not have an increased risk.

Moreover, the increased risk for gestational diabetes seen with animal fat and cholesterol appeared to be independent of other, dietary and non-dietary, risk factors for gestational diabetes. For example, exercise is known to reduce the risk of gestational diabetes. Among women who exercised, however, those who consumed higher amounts of animal fat and cholesterol had a higher risk than those whose diets were lower in these types of fat.

"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), one of three NIH institutes supporting the study.

The researchers concluded that changing the source of 5 percent of dietary calories from animal fat to plant-derived sources could decrease a woman's risk for gestational diabetes by 7 percent.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture website, ChooseMyPlate.gov, contains information on healthy eating for children and adults, as well as health and nutrition information for pregnant and breast feeding women.

First author Katherine Bowers, Ph.D., conducted the research with NICHD colleagues
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Contact: Robert Bock or John McGrath
bockr@mail.nih.gov
301-496-5133
NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Source:Eurekalert

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