Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg and Linkoping University in Sweden found of 6,000 children given blood tests, 3 percent had either elevated levels of antibodies that attack insulin-producing cells or fully developed type 1 diabetes at the age of 5.
The study, published in Pediatric Diabetes, found the diabetes risk markers were up to twice as common in children whose mothers rarely ate vegetables during pregnancy.
"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," corresponding author Hilde Brekke of Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg said in a statement.
Brekke said it cannot be said 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, did not seem to explain the link, Brekke said.
"Nor can this protection be explained by other measured dietary factors or other known risk factors," Brekke added.