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Jan 13, 2016 03:42 AM EST

Potato consumption before pregnancy tied to gestational diabetes

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A new study suggests that women who consume lots of potatoes before pregnancy may be at risk to develop gestational diabetes, nwitimes reports.

"The more women consumed potatoes, the greater risk they had for gestational diabetes," said senior author Dr. Cuilin Zhang, a senior investigator with the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

"Potatoes are regarded as a kind of vegetable, but not all vegetables are healthy."

The study stated that a woman's risk of gestational diabetes seemed to increase by 27 percent if she ate between two and four cups of potatoes a week before pregnancy. The risk to develop gestational diabetes increased by 50 percent, if the women consumed five or more cups a week.

The study only showed a link between potato consumption and the risk of gestational diabetes.

The study wasn't designed to prove cause-and-effect.

The findings from the study were released online Jan. 12 in the BMJ.

According to background information in the study, about 35 percent of U.S. women in their childbearing years eat potatoes daily.

For the study, the researchers from NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and Harvard University evaluated more than 15,000 women in the Nurses' Health Study II, according to Science Daily.

The researchers analyzed records from 1991 to 2001 of women who had no history of illness before pregnancy and had not had gestational diabetes before. 

The study revealed that 900 cases of gestational diabetes occurred during almost 22,000 single-birth pregnancies. Since all the women in the study had food questionnaires filed every other year, the researchers found the link between consumption of potatoes and risk for developing gestational diabetes.

The researchers estimated that women could lower their risk of gestational diabetes by 9 to 12 percent if they replaced two servings of potatoes every week with other vegetables or whole grains.

"Women planning for pregnancy should reduce their consumption of potatoes," Zhang said. "What moms eat can potentially affect the health of their babies."

 Zhang said women don't need to eliminate potatoes off of the menu altogether, but no more than one serving a week is best,

"A potato does contain healthful nutrients. Vitamin C and potassium and a small amount of dietary fiber. But it's all about the dose. I think moderate consumption is still fine but not too high," she said, according to CBS News.

"From our data, we show if they consume one serving per week then they're still okay, but if they consume two or more servings, there's an increased risk for gestational diabetes."

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