researchers suggest that, to prevent gestational diabetes, mothers should substitute potatoes with other vegetables,
legumes (such as peas, beans and lentils), or whole grain foods might
lower the risk.
Potatoes are one of the world’s most commonly consumed foods. US
dietary guidelines continue to include potatoes in the vegetable food
group and encourage consumption, though previous studies suggest that
potatoes can have a detrimental effect on blood sugar levels due to
their high starch content.
Gestational diabetesis a common pregnancy complication that has long
term health risks for both mothers and babies, but the association
between potato consumption and risk of gestational diabetes remains
So researchers from Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and Harvard University tracked 15,632 women who were part of the Nurses’ Health Study II and who became pregnant over a 10-year period (1991-2001).
They had no previous gestational diabetes or chronic disease before pregnancy.
Consumption of potatoes and other foods was assessed every four years
and cases of gestational diabetes were ascertained from self reports of
a physician diagnosis of GDM, which was validated by medical records.
Over the 10 year follow-up period, the team identified 21,693
singleton pregnancies of which 854 were affected by gestational
After taking account of other risk factors for gestational
diabetes such as age, family history of diabetes, physical activity,
overall diet quality, and BMI, they found that higher total potato
consumption was significantly associated with an increased risk of
However, substituting two servings of potatoes a
week with other vegetables, legumes, or whole grain foods was
significantly associated with a 9-12% lower risk.
The authors point out that potatoes have a high glycaemic index
compared with other vegetables, so can trigger a sharp rise in blood
sugar levels, and this could be one explanation for the findings. They
also acknowledge several study limitations and say because of the
observational nature of their study, no definitive conclusions can be
drawn about cause and effect.
Check the GI of different foods with our handy tool
However, they conclude: “Higher levels of potato consumption before
pregnancy are associated with greater risk of GDM, and substitution of
potatoes with other vegetables, legumes, or whole grain foods might
lower the risk.”
The Glycaemic index and diabetes
Abdominal fat may predict diabetes in pregnant women
Mom's diabetes control may affect kids' brains
MedicalBrief is Africa’s authoritative weekly digest of medical matters, both on the continent and around the world. It brings you a succinct summary of the latest developments, both in news and research, with links to the original material.