Fat Intake Before Pregnancy and Its Effect on Gestational Diabetes

A study published in the February 2012 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at how the level of dietary fat intake before pregnancy related to the risk of developing gestational diabetes (GDM).  The article was “A prospective study of prepregnancy dietary fat intake and risk of gestational diabetes.”
obese girl eating in front of the televisionThe researchers decide to further examine this topic because there are limited studies on regular dietary fat intake and GDM; the studies that do exist have conflicting findings.  Considering that fatty acids are vital in maintaining glucose homeostasis, it is important to understand how dietary fat intake affects the risk of developing gestational diabetes.

This was a prospective study.  It involved 13,475 women; as part of the Nurses’ Health Study II, they had reported a singleton pregnancy between 1991 and 2001.  Of those women, 860 cases of GDM were seen.  With pooled logistic regression, the adjusted relative risk (RR) of developing GDM was estimated for quintiles of the following fat intake:  total fat, specific fat, and source of fat.

It was seen that higher animal fat intake and cholesterol intake were significantly associated with an increased risk of developing GDM.

The following RRs for GDM were found across increasing quintiles of animal fat (95% CI; p-trend=0.05):

  • 1.00 (reference)
  • 1.55 (1.20, 1.98)
  • 1.43 (1.09, 1.88)
  • 1.40 (1.04, 1.89)
  • 1.88 (1.36, 2.60)

Across the quintiles for dietary cholesterol, the RRs for GDM were (95% CI; p-trend=0.04):

  • 1.00 (reference)
  • 1.08 (0.84, 1.32)
  • 1.02 (0.78, 1.29)
  • 1.20 (0.93, 1.55)
  • 1.45 (1.11, 1.89)

Substituting 5% of energy from animal fat for 5% of energy from carbohydrates significantly increased the risk of GDM (RR [95% CI]: 1.13 [1.08, 1.18], p<0.0001).

There were no significant associations seen between GDM risk and intake of polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat, or transfat.

In conclusion, the researchers say that a higher intake of animal fat and cholesterol before pregnancy is associated with an increase in gestational diabetes risk.

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