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Poor diet Before Pregnancy Linked with Preterm Birth

A new study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, has for the first time confirmed that women who eat a poor diet before they become pregnant are around 50% more likely to have a preterm birth than those on a healthy diet.

Researchers investigated the dietary patterns of more than 300 South Australian women to better understand their eating habits before pregnancy. The study found that women who consistently ate a diet high in protein and fruit prior to becoming pregnant were less likely to have a preterm birth, while those who consistently ate high fat and sugar foods and takeaway were about 50% more likely to have a preterm birth.

Preterm birth is a leading cause of infant disease and death and occurs in approximately one in 10 pregnancies globally. Anything we can do to better understand the conditions that lead to preterm birth will be important in helping to improve survival and long-term health outcomes for children,” says the lead author of the paper, “In our study, women who ate protein-rich foods including lean meats, fish and chicken, as well as fruit, whole grains and vegetables, had significantly lower risk of preterm birth. On the other hand, women who consumed mainly discretionary foods, such as takeaway, potato chips, cakes, biscuits, and other foods high in saturated fat and sugar were more likely to have babies born preterm“.

Clearly it is important to consume a healthy diet before as well as during pregnancy to support the best outcomes for the mum and baby. Diet is an important risk factor that can be modified, it is never too late to make a positive change.

Grieger J A et al., Preconception Dietary Patterns in Human Pregnancies Are Associated with Preterm Delivery. Journal of Nutrition, 2014; DOI: 10.3945/jn.114.190686

Categories: Nutritional News, Children's Health