FRIDAY, Oct. 30, 2009 (HealthDay News) -- Children born to mothers who ate plenty of vegetables during pregnancy are less likely to have type 1 diabetes, Swedish researchers say.
"This is the first study to show a link between vegetable intake during pregnancy and the risk of the child subsequently developing type 1 diabetes, but more studies of various kinds will be needed before we can say anything definitive," study author Hilde Brekke, a clinical nutritionist at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, said in a news release from the university.
Brekke and colleagues studied 6,000 5-year-olds and found that 3 percent either had fully developed type 1 diabetes or had elevated levels of antibodies that indicate a risk of developing the disease. The risk was twice as high in children whose mothers rarely ate vegetables during pregnancy, and lowest among children whose mothers ate vegetables every day of their pregnancy.
The study was recently published online in the journal Pediatric Diabetes.
"We cannot say with certainty on the basis of this study that it's the vegetables themselves that have this protective effect, but other factors related to vegetable intake, such as the mother's standard of education, do not seem to explain the link," Brekke said. "Nor can this protection be explained by other measured dietary factors or other known risk factors."
While it's not known what actually causes type 1 diabetes, factors believed to play a role include immunological mechanisms, environmental toxins and genetic variations. Type 1 diabetes occurs throughout the world but is most common in Finland and Sweden.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International has more about type 1 diabetes.