Research: ZHANG and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 111


ZHANG and colleagues, Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Seattle, Washington, USA,, have studied the vitamin C levels in pregnant women and the risk of pregnancy-related diabetes.


Antioxidants, particularly vitamin C, have the capacity to influence glucose tolerance. Modification of diet could reduce the likelihood of developing gestational diabetes mellitus.


In this prospective cohort study of pregnant women, the association of maternal plasma vitamin C concentrations, measured at an average of 13 weeks' gestation, with subsequent risk of gestational diabetes was assessed. Dietary vitamin C intake during the periconceptional period and early pregnancy was ascertained using a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire. Generalized linear models were fitted to derive estimates of relative risks and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).


Approximately 4% (n = 33) of 755 women who completed pregnancy developed pregnancy-related diabetes mellitus. Plasma vitamin C concentrations were inversely associated with the risk of gestational diabetes (p for trend = 0.023). Women in the lowest quartile of plasma vitamin C experienced a 3.1-fold increased risk of gestational diabetes compared with women in the highest quartile. Women who consumed less than 70 mg vitamin C daily experienced a 1.8-fold increased risk of gestational diabetes compared with women who consumed higher amounts.


These results raise the possibility that current efforts to encourage populations to consume diets rich in antioxidants, including vitamin C, could reduce the occurrence of pregnancy-related diabetes mellitus.


Zhang C, Williams MA, Sorensen TK, King IB, Kestin MM, Thompson ML, Leisenring WM, Dashow EE, Luthy DA. Maternal plasma ascorbic Acid (vitamin C) and risk of gestational diabetes mellitus. Epidemiology 15 (5): 597-604, Sep 2004.

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