NIH Examine Suggests Consuming Habits Change Solely Barely After Gestational Diabetes Prognosis

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Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that pregnant women made only minor changes to their diet after being diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that pregnant women made only minor changes to their diet after being diagnosed with gestational diabetes.

Typically, women with gestational diabetes are advised to reduce their carbohydrate intake. In the study population, women reduced their daily intake of juice and added sugar while increasing their intake of cheese and artificially sweetened beverages. However, a subset of the patient population did not change their carbohydrate intake, including women with obesity, those with more than one child, Hispanic women, those with a high school graduation or less, and those between the ages of 35 and 41.

Patients with gestational diabetes are at higher risk of maternal high blood pressure, larger babies, cesarean sections, low blood sugar in newborns, and developing chronic diabetes later in life, according to the NIH.

“The dietary improvements we observed were not the same for all groups of women,” said Stefanie N. Hinkle, PhD, in the press release. “This study underscores the importance of developing individualized programs to ensure that all women with gestational diabetes successfully change their diet and optimize their health.”

The researchers analyzed an existing dataset from the NICHD fetal growth studies, which included diet and exercise surveys from a diverse patient population in 12 hospital centers across the United States. The nutritional analysis included 1371 women, 72 of whom had gestational diabetes. The study team also looked at exercise habits, which were attended by 1,875 women, 84 of whom had gestational diabetes.

In the study, women with gestational diabetes reduced their daily carbohydrate intake to 48 grams, mainly by limiting juice consumption to around 0.4 cups per day. They also reduced their extra sugar consumption by about 3.2 teaspoons a day. Conversely, their cheese consumption increased 0.3 cups per day and artificially sweetened drinks increased 0.2 cups per day, according to the NIH.

In addition, the team found that women with gestational diabetes could not reduce their consumption of whole grains or whole fruits, nor could they compensate for dietary changes by increasing their saturated fat. The study authors found that these observations are comforting, since complex carbohydrates from whole grains or fruits can be beneficial for gestational diabetes, while saturated fats can worsen health outcomes by promoting excessive fetal growth.

Another key finding was that women with gestational diabetes maintained the time they spent doing moderate or intense exercise into their third trimester. However, those who did not have gestational diabetes reduced their moderate physical activity by about 20 minutes per week and their vigorous exercise by about 9 minutes per week during their third trimester.

The researchers found that health care providers should take advantage of all the touchpoints where they can help women with gestational diabetes improve their lifestyles by changing diet and exercise habits. Additionally, they called for additional studies to identify new approaches that can help improve diet and exercise-related behavior.

REFERENCE

Press release: Eating habits change only slightly after gestational diabetes is diagnosed, suggests an NIH study. NIH. Published May 19, 2021. Accessed May 19, 2021. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/newsroom/news/051921-gestational-diabetes