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High intake of fried food increases risk of gestational diabetes

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Women are more likely to develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy if they regularly eat fried food before conceiving, new research suggests.

A group of scientists from the United States examined the association between pre-pregnancy fried food consumption, both at home and away from home, and the risk of subsequent gestational diabetes.

The condition is characterised by abnormally high blood glucose during pregnancy – particularly in the final three months – and can lead to increased birthweight of the child, jaundice and other complications.

Stillbirth can also occur in the most serious cases if the condition is left untreated, while the women themselves face an increased risk of developing full blown type 2 diabetes at some point in the future.

The authors of the study, led by Dr Cuilin Zhang and Dr Wei Bao from Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Rockville, analysed 21,079 singleton pregnancies from 15,027 women.

They documented 847 incidents of gestational diabetes during the 10-year follow-up period.

Women who consumed fried food on seven or more occasions per week more than doubled their risk of developing gestational diabetes compared with those who consumed fried food less than once per week.

Women who ate fried food between one and three times per week also experienced an increased risk, as did those who ate fried food between four and six times per week, according to the study in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

A stronger association of gestational diabetes risk was observed with fried foods consumed away from home. The authors attributed this to the fact that oils are often reused in takeaways, something which causes them to deteriorate much faster. Foods therefore absorb more of these degradation products.

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