Scientists at the National Institutes of Health and Harvard University in the United States have found that women who eat a diet high in animal fat and cholesterol prior to pregnancy were at a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes than those who consume less of each.
With gestational diabetes being linked with a higher likelihood of complications during pregnancy as well as health issues for the new baby, the study also showed that women with a diet high in total fat or other kinds of fats, but not animal fat or cholesterol, did not face an increased risk.
In addition, the greater risk from animal fat and cholesterol for gestational diabetes seemed to be independent of any other risk factors for gestational diabetes, such as lack of exercise. It was shown that moving the source of 5 per cent of dietary calories from animal fat to plant-derived sources could lower a woman’s chances of developing gestational diabetes by 7 per cent.
Senior author on the study, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Cuilin Zhang, said “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.”
First author Katherine Bowers pointed out “Additional research may lead to increased understanding of how a mother’s diet before and during pregnancy influences her metabolism during pregnancy, which may have important implications for the baby’s health at birth and later in life.”

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