Although gall bladder disease is not a common complication of pregnancy for Los Angeles women, it occurs in about 15% of pregnancies and is the most common non-obstetric reason for hospital admission in the first two months after delivery. On June 1, 2011, researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle, reported that the risk of gallbladder disease was highest among women with a high carbohydrate diet. The study group was comprised of 3,070 women in their first trimester (first three months) of pregnancy. High fructose consumption also indicated a higher risk. According to senior investigator Cynthia Ko, MD, “Women in the highest quartiles of carbohydrate consumption had more than double the risk for gallbladder disease compared to women in the lowest quartile. Although further clinical studies are now needed, our results suggest that decreasing intake of carbohydrates, starches, and fructose during pregnancy may decrease the risk of forming gallstones.”
The women received follow-up from their first trimester of pregnancy until four to six weeks postpartum. They underwent three ultrasounds during pregnancy and one following their pregnancy to assess for gallstones and biliary sludge; the participants also completed a validated food frequency questionnaire early in the third trimester. The following factor comprised increased disease: the progression of baseline sludge to stones, the development of new sludge, or the development of new stones. The cumulative incidence of gallbladder disease (sludge and/or stones) was 10.2% overall, including new sludge in 5.1%, new stones in 2.8%, and progression from baseline sludge to stones in 2.3% of participants. Sludge/stones were significantly more likely among Hispanic women, those with greater body mass index before their pregnancy, those with less weight gain during pregnancy, and those with high caffeine and alcohol intake. The study found no significant difference between the groups who developed gallstones vs. those who did not in regard to a history of
diabetes, development of gestational diabetes, or intake of calories, fat, or fiber. High consumption of galactose was protective for gallstones; however, the researchers had no explanation for this finding.
In summary, a high carbohydrate diet has a greater risk of gallbladder disease. Another risk factor is Hispanic heritage, thus, the large Hispanic population in Los Angeles is at greater risk.
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