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J Nutr Metab. 2010;2010:282464. doi: 10.1155/2010/282464. Epub 2011 Jan 2.

Glycemic index and pregnancy: a systematic literature review.

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  • 1Discipline of Nutrition and Metabolism, School of Molecular Bioscience, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.


Background/Aim. Dietary glycemic index (GI) has received considerable research interest over the past 25 years although its application to pregnancy outcomes is more recent. This paper critically evaluates the current evidence regarding the effect of dietary GI on maternal and fetal nutrition. Methods. A systematic literature search using MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, SCOPUS, and ISI Web of Science, from 1980 through September 2010, was conducted. Results. Eight studies were included in the systematic review. Two interventional studies suggest that a low-GI diet can reduce the risk of large-for-gestational-age (LGA) infants in healthy pregnancies, but one epidemiological study reported an increase in small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infants. Evidence in pregnancies complicated by gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), though limited (n = 3), consistently supports the advantages of a low-GI diet. Conclusion. There is insufficient evidence to recommend a low-GI diet during normal pregnancy. In pregnancy complicated by GDM, a low-GI diet may reduce the need for insulin without adverse effects on pregnancy outcomes. Until larger-scale intervention trials are completed, a low-GI diet should not replace the current recommended pregnancy diets from government and health agencies. Further research regarding the optimal time to start a low-GI diet for maximum protection against adverse pregnancy outcomes is warranted.

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