Aims/hypothesis: The purpose of this study was to investigate the relation between life-style habits and glucose abnormalities in Caucasian women with and without conventional risk factors for gestational diabetes.
Methods: A total of 126 pregnant women with gestational diabetes, 84 with impaired glucose tolerance and 294 with normal glucose tolerance, identified by sequential screening, were interviewed to determine their usual weekly food pattern, amount of exercise, smoking habits and alcohol intake.
Results: Patients with glucose abnormalities were older and shorter in height and had significantly higher BMI before pregnancy, percentage of diabetic first-degree relatives and higher intake of saturated fat. Patients without known risk factors for gestational diabetes (i. e. younger than 35 years of age, BMI < 25 kg/m2, no first-degree diabetic relatives) included 40 with impaired glucose tolerance or gestational diabetes. In a multiple logistic regression model age, short stature, familial diabetes, BMI and percentages of saturated fat were associated with impaired glucose tolerance or gestational diabetes in all patients, after adjustment for gestational age. In patients without conventional risk factors only percentages of saturated fat (OR = 2.0; 95 %-CI = 1.2-3.2) and polyunsaturated fat (OR = 0.85; 95 %-CI = 0.77-0.92) were associated with gestational hyperglycaemia, after adjustment for age, gestational age and BMI.
Conclusion/interpretation: Saturated fat has an independent role in the development of gestational glucose abnormalities. This role is more important in the absence of conventional risk factors suggesting that glucose abnormalities could be prevented during pregnancy, at least in some groups of women.