Researchers have found for the first time that drinking more than five servings of sugar–sweetened cola a week prior to pregnancy, appears to significantly elevate the risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy.
The research team at the LSU Health Sciences Center, New Orleans School of Public Health, studied a group of 13,475 women. During 10 years of follow-up, 860 cases of Gestational Diabetes Mellitus (GDM) were identified. After adjustment for known risk factors for GDM including age, family history of diabetes, parity, physical activity, smoking status, sugar-sweetened beverage intake, alcohol intake, prepregnancy BMI, and Western dietary patterns, the intake of sugar-sweetened cola was positively associated with the risk of GDM. No significant association was found for other sugar-sweetened beverages or diet beverages.
GDM, defined as glucose intolerance beginning during pregnancy, is one of the most common pregnancy complications. Women with GDM are at an increased risk for complications and illness during pregnancy and delivery, as well as post-pregnancy type 2 diabetes. Children of mothers with GDM are at increased risk for obesity, glucose intolerance, and early onset diabetes.
Evidence suggests that the main defect in the development of GDM is relatively diminished insulin secretion coupled with pregnancy-induced insulin resistance. The researchers discuss a number of explanations of their findings. Consuming a large amount of sugar-sweetened beverages could contribute to a high glycemic load (GL) by providing a large amount of rapidly absorbable sugars. High-GL foods can contribute to insulin resistance and impaired pancreatic beta cell function. (Pancreatic beta cells make insulin.) In addition, higher sugar intake itself may lead to impaired pancreatic cell function.