Pregnant? Don’t eat for 2, weight gain can give baby diabetes

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Diabetes, pregnancy, weight gain
Keeping healthy during pregnancy can give the baby a head start when it comes to its own health

Eating for two is a myth, say researchers; excess weight during pregnancy could pave way for diabetes in baby

The traditional advice of eating for two people when pregnant can lead to severe consequences for the baby.

A research in Hong Kong found that women who gained either more or less than the recommended weight during pregnancy bore children who were more likely to show insulin resistance. The study included 905 mother and child pairs.

Insulin resistance is a condition in which cells in the body fail to respond to the hormone insulin, increasing an adult’s risk of type 2 diabetes.

Babies born to overweight mothers are also more likely to be obese with higher blood pressure, compared with children born to women whose weight gain is within the recommended range.

Since 2009, women in the US have been advised to gain weight during pregnancy according to their pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI):

  • Underweight women should gain 12.5 to 18kg
  • Healthy weight women should gain 11.5 to 16kg
  • Overweight women should gain 7 to 11.5kg
  • Obese women should gain 5 to 9 kg

Keeping healthy during pregnancy, with a good diet and plenty of exercise, can give the baby a head start when it comes to its own health

But all the women in this study were of Chinese origin. Chinese women might have different diets and weight trajectories from women in India or elsewhere in the world. So, it is unclear whether the results of this study would be the same for non-Chinese women.

Moreover, insulin insensitivity doesn’t mean someone will definitely get diabetes. It is known though that energy needs do not change significantly for the first six months of pregnancy.

The researchers who carried out the study were from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Tianjin Medical University in China.

The study was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases in the US, and the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong.

Conclusion

This study adds to evidence that keeping healthy during pregnancy, with a good diet and plenty of exercise, can give the baby a head start when it comes to its own health.

There’s a pervasive myth that women need to “eat for two while pregnant”, but that’s not true.

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