During pregnancy, lower levels of maternal glucose before and during a glucose load have been associated with reduced infant birth weight and an increased risk of small-for-gestational-age births. A lower incremental area under the glucose response curve defines a low glycemic diet. Thus, during pregnancy the maternal diet, as measured by the glycemic index, may influence fetal growth and infant birth weight. A total of 1,082 gravidas who enrolled in the Camden Study between August 1996 and October 2002 were followed prospectively during pregnancy. The dietary glycemic index was computed from three 24-hour recalls in the course of pregnancy. Samples for plasma glucose and for glycosylated hemoglobin were obtained at 24-28 weeks' gestation. The glycemic index was positively and significantly related to maternal glycosylated hemoglobin and plasma glucose. There were as well significant linear trends for dietary fat intake to decrease and for intakes of carbohydrate, sucrose, fiber, and folate to increase as the glycemic index declined. Gravidas with a low dietary glycemic index had reduced infant birth weight and approximately a twofold increased risk of a small-for-gestational-age birth. Consistent with data on maternal plasma glucose, data in this study show that the type of carbohydrate in the diet of urban, low-income women influences fetal growth and infant birth weight.
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