Posted 15 APRIL 2009
Snacking on high GI foods during late pregnancy may lead to a heavier baby with an increased risk of childhood obesity
Mothers who snack on high GI (Glycaemic Index) foods like chocolate and white bread during later pregnancy may give birth to heavier babies with a greater risk of childhood obesity, according to new research published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
The research by scientists from the UCD Conway Institute at University College Dublin, and the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) in Dublin, into sheep models of pregnancy discovered that high GI snack diets among ewes during the third trimester of pregnancy resulted in a heavier birth weight and postnatal growth rate of newborn lambs.
According to the scientists, the sheep model used in the scientific study is instructive of the relationship between a human mothers’ diet, the birth weight of their child, and the risk of childhood obesity. In previous studies, the sheep model has been shown to share many elements of pregnancy with the human model including metabolic function and nutrient transport.
“The findings show that ewes fed high glycaemic foods twice daily in addition to their normal meals, during the last trimester of pregnancy, gave birth to heavier lambs with a faster postnatal growth rate,” says Professor Alex Evans, Associate Professor of Animal Physiology at the UCD School of Agriculture, Food Science and Veterinary Medicine, at University College Dublin, one of the co-authors of the study.
“Changing the source and pattern of intake of maternal dietary carbohydrate may help reduce maternal and fetal trauma at parturition and reduce the risk of obesity related diseases among offspring in later life.”
Higher GI values are given to foods that result in the most rapid rise in blood sugar once consumed. Many sweet and sugary foods have high GI but so too do starchy foods like potatoes and white bread. Glucose scores 100 on the GI Index, bananas score 52, and peanuts score 14.
The new scientific research findings published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology will prompt further investigations into the effects of high-glycaemic diets during pregnancy on the birth weight of children and the associated potential future risk of developing childhood obesity.