Baked, mashed or fried — any way you have them, potatoes are pure comfort food and a cause for cravings in some pregnant women. But women who are pregnant or looking to have a baby may want to keep potato consumption to a minimum. A new study published in the medical journal BMJ found that moms who eat lots of potatoes are at higher risk for gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes happens when the placenta makes hormones that can make it harder for insulin to work. That causes blood sugar to spike and may increase a baby’s size, making delivery even more difficult. Babies born to moms with gestational diabetes can have low blood pressure, difficulty breathing and a higher risk of death after delivery. It can also increase the mom’s risk for eventually getting Type 2 diabetes.
The study found that about 35 percent of women of childbearing age eat spuds daily. Studying the eating habits and pregnancies of more than 6,000 women revealed that the risk of gestational diabetes increased 27 percent among those who ate two to four cups of potatoes a week before pregnancy. Even after considering obesity and other risk factors, consuming five or more cups a week increased the risk of gestational diabetes by 50 percent.
Risk factors for gestational diabetes include having it previously, having a parent or sibling with Type 2 diabetes and being obese.
The good news? Switching just two servings of spuds with another vegetable or whole grains reduces the risk of gestational diabetes by 8 to 12 percent. Keeping your weight gain in check and exercising also helps. Unlike Type 2 diabetes, it doesn’t have any symptoms, so get your blood sugar levels checked periodically.