Excessive refined carbohydrate associated with maternal and infant complications in pregnancy

Friday 28 December 2018, 9:48AM
By John Smith

Eating well and moving is important at all stages in life, but especially during pregnancy, living well is the primary strategy at the forefront for reducing the risk of complications, especially diabetes in pregnancy. Gestational diabetes effect between 7 and 20% of pregnancies and is associated with complications that can affect both mother and her baby. Entering pregnancy with a healthy diet, which is abundant in whole-foods and low in refined carbohydrates and sugars, may be one of the most important strategies for a safe and healthy pregnancy.

A Chinese study published in the European Journal of Public Health in November 2018 concluded excessive consumption of carbohydrate early in pregnancy increased the occurrence of Gestational Diabetes [1]. The study was conducted among 772 women, of which 169 went on to develop gestational diabetes in their pregnancy. Earlier studies have pointed to the dangers of excessive refined carbohydrate and fructose in pregnancy. Excessive fructose from refined foods has been associated with an increased risk of biliary problems [2] and may carry long-term health impacts on to the offspring [3]. High carbohydrate diets of the mother during pregnancy may also increase the risk of respiratory infections in infants [4].

According to Sylvia North of Fearless Nutrition, the food we eat and how much we move has a direct impact on our blood sugar levels. That means not only do natural whole-foods provide the right sustenance for baby’s growth, managing blood glucose levels with a nutrient-dense diet also reduces the risk of compilations such as high blood pressure or cesarean section.


[1] Zhang, C., et al. (2018). "Dietary carbohydrate intake and the occurrence of gestational diabetes mellitus: a prospective study: Cai-Xia Zhang." European Journal of Public Health 28(suppl_4): cky218. 054.

[2] Wong, A. C. and C. W. Ko (2013). Carbohydrate Intake as a Risk Factor for Biliary Sludge and Stones During Pregnancy. 47: 700-705.

[3] Regnault, T. R. H., et al. (2013). "Fructose, pregnancy and later life impacts." Clinical & Experimental Pharmacology & Physiology 40(11): 824-837.

[4] Ferolla, F. M., et al. (2013). "Macronutrients during pregnancy and life-threatening respiratory syncytial virus infections in children." Am J Respir Crit Care Med 187(9): 983-990.