Excess egg consumption increases GDM risk

Eating one or more eggs each day before or during pregnancy may increase the chances of developing gestational diabetes (GDM) according to the findings of two studies which investigated the relationship between egg consumption prior to or during early pregnancy and GDM risk.

The first study of more than 3100 women found that women who ate 10 or more eggs per week had more than 2.5 times the risk of developing GDM compared to those who didn’t eat eggs.  Those who at 7 or more eggs per week increased their risk 1.8 fold compared to those who ate less than 7 eggs per week.

The second study, a case-control study, compared 185 women who developed GDM with 411 women who didn’t develop diabetes (controls).  Similar to the first study, they found that the odds of developing GDM was 2.7 times higher in those who ate 7 or more eggs per week compared to those who ate less than 7 per week.  In both cases, the findings were independent of other factors which may affect diabetes risk.

Both studies also found that the risk of GDM was higher in those who consumed more cholesterol in their diet.  In the first study the risk was 2.4 fold higher in those with the highest cholesterol intakes (294mg per day or more) compared to those with the lowest intakes (less than 151mg/day); in the second study the risk was 2.9 times higher.  A medium egg contains around 200mg of cholesterol.

These studies support the findings of previous research showing a link between high egg intake and type 2 diabetes, and between cholesterol intakes and both gestational diabetes and type 2 diabetes. The researchers suggest that further studies are needed to explore the mechanisms behind this increased risk.

In the meantime, while eggs are a convenient and nutritious food, the study suggests that, like most things, they should be consumed in moderation and alternated with other protein foods, particularly if you are trying to conceive.

Qiu et al. Risk of gestational diabetes mellitus in relation to maternal egg and cholesterol intake.Am J Epidemiol. 2011 Mar 15;173(6):649-58. Epub 2011 Feb 15.

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