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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Healthy Diet May Reduce High Blood Pressure Risk after Gestational Diabetes

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Another study lauds a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods.

Sticking to a healthy diet in the years after pregnancy may reduce the risk of high blood pressure among women who had pregnancy-related (gestational) diabetes, according to a study by researchers at NIH and other institutions. The study was published in Hypertension.

“Our study suggests that women who have had gestational diabetes may indeed benefit from a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in red and processed meats,” said the study’s senior author, Dr. Cuilin Zhang, a senior investigator in the Epidemiology Branch, NICHD.

In fact, a healthy diet was associated with lower risk for high blood pressure even in obese women. Obesity is a risk factor for high blood pressure. But obese women in the study who adhered to a healthy diet had a lower risk of high blood pressure, when compared to obese women who did not.

Approximately 5 percent of pregnant women in the United States develop gestational diabetes, despite not having diabetes before becoming pregnant. The condition results in high blood sugar levels, which can increase the risk of early labor and a larger than average baby, which may result in problems during delivery. For most women with the condition, blood sugar levels return to normal after birth. However, later in life, women who had gestational diabetes are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

The current study is the first to show that adopting a healthy diet—known to reduce high blood pressure risk among the general population—also reduces the risk among women with prior gestational diabetes. 

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Associate Editor: Carla Garnett
Carla.Garnett@nih.gov

Staff Writers:

Eric Bock
Eric.Bock@nih.gov

Dana Talesnik
Dana.Talesnik@nih.gov

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