Can eating a lot of white rice and white bread while pregnant set your child up for obesity?
Results from a National Institutes of Health study seem to suggest so.
According to the institute, researchers found that children born to mothers with gestational diabetes whose diet included a lot of refined grains may have a higher risk of being obese by the time they are age 7, compared to children born to mothers with gestational diabetes who ate the smallest amounts of refined grains.
The findings, which appear online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, were part of the Diabetes & Women’s Health Study, a research project led by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
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Gestational diabetes, which is high blood sugar during pregnancy, affects about 5 percent of all pregnancies in the United States. It’s a condition that doctors monitor women for during pregnancy because it may lead to health problems for both mother and baby.
Refined grains include white rice, white bread, regular white pasta.
The institute says that previous studies have linked diets high in refined grains to obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Refined grains include white rice, white bread and regular white pasta.
In this latest study, the researchers compared records from 918 mother-child pairs who took part in the Danish National Birth Cohort, a study that followed the pregnancies of more than 91,000 women in Denmark. They found that children born to women with gestational diabetes who ate the most refined grains – (156 grams or about one-third of pound a day) – were twice as likely to be obese by age 7 as opposed to those born to women who ate the least refined grains (37 grams or only a little over an ounce per day).
The link between the mother’s consumption of refined grains and child obesity remained even when the researchers controlled for other factors, such as the level of physical activity of the children and how many fruits, vegetables and sweets they ate, the institute says.
But the institute says the study authors call for additional research to confirm the results and to follow children into later life, including into adulthood, to see if the obesity risk persists.