Low Vegetable Intake During Pregnancy Can Increase Baby’s Diabetes Risk by 70%

April 14, 2010


Diabetes UK estimate that seven million people in the UK are at risk of developing diabetes, which can lead to other significant health problems by affecting the nerves, kidneys, eyes, and heart. It can lead to greater susceptibility to strokes and cause blood clots in the vessels in the legs which may result in amputation. Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in the working population as it can affect the blood vessels at the back of the eye [retinopathy] and this can lead to visual impairment or blindness.

With this in mind, it makes sense to start early prevention and new research published in the journal Pediatric Diabetes undertaken by the University of Gothenburg and Linkoping University in Sweden offers some hope for that. It seems that women who eat more vegetables while pregnant significantly reduce their children’s risk of developing Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that develops when the immune system produces antibodies that attack the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

Researchers tested the blood of 6,000 five-year-old children for these antibodies, and compared the results to their mothers’ self-reported vegetable intakes (excluding root vegetables such as potatoes, beets and carrots) during their pregnancy. They found children whose mothers had eaten vegetables only three to five times a week while pregnant were 70 percent more likely to have elevated antibody levels than children whose mothers ate vegetables every day. In this study the most frequently consumed vegetables were tomatoes, cabbage, onions, lettuce and cucumbers.

The researchers found that this positive effect remained after researchers adjusted for other Type 1 diabetes risk factors, such as mother’s education level. The reason lies yet again with those vital flavonoids in fruit and vegetables as these powerful antioxidants have previously been suggested to be potentially therapeutic agents for Type 1 diabetes. Vegetables also containing vitamin C and vitamin E have also been shown to reduce the risk of Type 1 diabetes.

If you are pregnant, or planning to start a family, or know someone who is then it would be a good deed to encourage them to up their fruit and vegetable intake not only for their own wellbeing but for the long term health of their baby.

For more information on diabetes, please visit www.diabetes.org.uk


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