Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs in pregnant women and avoiding potatoes appears to prevent it. It is important to diagnose gestational diabetes, as uncontrolled diabetes would lead to fetal abnormalities, high blood pressure in the pregnant woman, premature labor, increased infection rates in mother and baby and neonatal hypoglycemia (= in the baby), particularly when prematurely born. Some of the malformations of the fetus associated with uncontrolled diabetes are: neural tube defects, congenital heart defects and other congenital malformations incompatible with life.
When gestational diabetes is diagnosed, the woman is usually followed by special centers (prenatal and neonatal) where prenatal genetic counseling and treatment is given.
A large prospective study was done by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and Harvard University monitoring the eating habits of 15, 632 women with a 21, 693 singleton pregnancies (6,061 of them had more than one pregnancy) that caught the attention of the media.
The overall observation time was for a period of 10 years. Using various statistical methods there was always a dose-relationship between the amount of potatoes eaten and the risk for developing gestational diabetes.
When women ate one serving of potatoes per week, the risk was 1.21-fold to develop gestational diabetes. With 2 to 4 helpings of potatoes during the week the risk was 1.28-fold to develop gestational diabetes. With 5 or more helpings of potatoes the risk of developing gestational diabetes was 1.51-fold. These findings were published in the British Medical Journal on Jan. 12, 2016. Regression analysis shows that this is a dose-response curve meaning that more gestational diabetes developed with higher doses of potatoes consumed per week.
It was particularly the consumption of French fries that brought up the blood sugars in pregnant women. The glycemic index of potatoes runs between 80 and 110, so potatoes are a high glycemic food that raises the blood sugar. During pregnancy women are particularly vulnerable to develop gestational diabetes with the added sugar load of foods.
The starch of potatoes is taken up quickly and leads to a higher sugar level after a meal that includes potato. Those women, who replaced potatoes with other vegetables, such as legumes and whole grain foods that typically had a low glycemic index, found that their blood sugars normalized, gestational diabetes disappeared and the outcome of the pregnancy was uneventful.
To eat potatoes or not to eat potatoes, that is the question. For myself I find potatoes too high in starch content and I have cut out potatoes since 2001, to the advantage of my body mass index that normalized. Many people are so accustomed to their potatoes, that they rather develop diabetes and die prematurely of a heart attack than reason it out and change their diet habits. Changing to a low glycemic index diet is not really such a big deal. It helps pregnant women with gestational diabetes normalize their metabolism, and it can help anybody to prevent heart attacks and strokes.
More info about gestational diabetes: https://nethealthbook.com/hormones/diabetes/gestational-diabetes/