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Study Warns Pregnant Women about Red Meat

Update Date: Dec 12, 2013 10:11 AM EST

Despite how delicious red meat might be, several studies have tied red meat to many health issues, such as obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure. Now, in a new study, researchers from the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute are warning women who might want to get pregnant about eating too much red meat. According to the researchers, pregnant women and women looking to get pregnant who eat too much red meat could be at a greater risk of developing gestational diabetes.

"There have been several reports linking red meat with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and now the work of a number of research teams worldwide is showing this link for diabetes during pregnancy," commented Philippa Middleton, who is one of the Robinson Institute's research leaders according to a news release. "While this news is alarming, there are also some positives. The latest research from the United States has shown that eating fish and poultry does not increase the risk of gestational diabetes, and consuming more vegetable and non-meat protein is associated with a reduction in risk."

Middleton's commentary was published in Evidence-Based Nursing. It reported the risk of gestational diabetes in women who eat a lot of red meat before they become pregnant. More research suggests that red meat could also increase risk during pregnancy. However, like Middleton stated, studies have also found that changing diets could reduce one's risk. For example, researchers have reported that eating half a serving of nuts daily could reduce one's risk of getting gestational diabetes by 40 percent.

"More research is needed to better understand why this is happening and how to adapt women's diets and other lifestyle behaviors to prevent both gestational and type 2 diabetes," Middleton added. "Based on current evidence, pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant should consider eating more vegetable protein, and nuts, and replacing some red meat with fish and poultry. Midwives, dieticians and others involved in pregnancy care can help women to make these dietary changes in the hope of reducing poor outcomes for the mother and the baby."

Gestational diabetes occurs when a pregnant woman who normally does not have type 1 or 2 diabetes develop the condition usually during week 24. According to the American Diabetes Association, gestational diabetes could lead to an increase in fat storage by the unborn baby. A heavier baby could then lead to other health complications during and after birth.

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