Compared to women who ate fried food less than once a week before pregnancy, the risk of gestational diabetes was 13 percent higher in those who ate fried food one to three times a week, the investigators found.
In addition, the risk of gestational diabetes was 31 percent higher in women who ate fried foods four to six times a week, and the risk more than doubled in women who consumed seven or more servings weekly, the researchers reported.
While the study found an association between the consumption of fried foods and gestational diabetes, it wasn't designed to prove whether or not such foods caused diabetes.
After the researchers adjusted the data for body mass index (an estimate of body fat based on height and weight), the risk of gestational diabetes among women who ate fried food was still elevated, though much lower.
The association between fried food and an increased risk of gestational diabetes was stronger with fried foods eaten in restaurants than with fried foods consumed at home, according to the report published in the journal Diabetologia.
Dr. Cuilin Zhang and colleagues from the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development said that their findings suggest that limiting consumption of fried food may help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes.
The researchers added that further studies are needed to confirm the results and to learn more about how consumption of fried food may increase the risk of gestational diabetes, a common pregnancy complication that can potentially have harmful effects on mothers and babies.