Women who do not eat properly during pregnancy put their children at increased risk of developing diabetes in the future, according to a new study.
Published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study reveals that as well as affecting foetal growth, poor maternal diet during pregnancy causes the child to be born with high levels of insulin and glucose.
Researchers from the Complutense University of Madrid found higher concentrations of insulin and serum glucose in the cord blood of babies born to mothers who ate a diet high in carbohydrates and saturated fat during pregnancy .
High insulin and serum glucose levels are markers of insulin resistance, a condition that often progresses into type 2 diabetes.
The findings therefore suggest that pregnant women who eat a healthy nutritious diet can reduce the future risk of children suffering from diabetes.
The researchers said that diets such as the Mediterranean diet, which focuses on fruit and vegetables and is low in animal fats, is particularly beneficial for women during pregnancy.
However, their results showed that more than half of pregnant women have low quality diets that include a high intake of meat rich in saturated fats and a low intake of vegetables and pulses, while over a third have “eating habits that differ greatly from the Mediterranean diet.
“It is vital to make mothers aware of the importance of eating well during pregnancy with a balanced Mediterranean diet,” said Francisco J. Sánchez-Muniz, one of the authors of the study.
“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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