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Sugary colas linked to gestational diabetes

November 30, 2009 | 10:33 am

Colas-booster Women planning on becoming pregnant may want to curb the cola habit. A study published today shows that drinking more than five servings of sugar-sweetened cola in the week prior to becoming pregnant raises the risk of developing gestational diabetes. This is the first study to find such an association.

Researchers from Louisiana State University examined data from 13,475 women in the Nurses' Health Study II. During 10 years of follow-up, they identified 860 cases of gestational diabetes. The women's dietary patterns were analyzed and showed that, compared with women who consumed less than one sugar-sweetened cola beverage per month, those who drank more than five servings a week had a 22% greater risk of gestational diabetes. No association was found for other sugar-sweetened beverages or diet beverages.

Gestational diabetes is a complication of pregnancy that can lead to premature birth and also raises the risk of later development of diabetes in the mother. Children whose mothers have gestational diabetes are at higher risk for obesity and diabetes.

"We don't know why significant association was only found in sugar-sweetened cola, but not other types of sugar-sweetened beverages -- fruit drinks, other soft drinks, etc," the lead author of the paper, Dr. Liwei Chen, said in a news release. "One of the explanations could be the tremendous popularity of cola in the United States."

It's possible that sugary colas increase the risk of gestational diabetes because the drinks contribute to a high glycemic load. Higher sugar intake by itself may lead to impaired function of the pancreas, where insulin is produced. The study is published in the journal Diabetes Care.

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Daniel Barry / Blooomberg News