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Premature birth less likely for pregnant women on healthy diet from conception to second trimester

Pregnant women who follow a healthy diet from conception to the second trimester are 50% less likely to have a premature birth, study finds

  • Pregnant women who follow healthy diet are less likely to have premature birth
  • Also lowers risk of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia
  • Healthy diet included fruit, vegetables and nuts, while limiting processed meat
  • Study involved almost 1,900 women who responded to questionnaires on diet

Pregnant women who follow a healthy diet from conception to the second trimester are 50 per cent less likely to have a premature birth, a study has found.

Researchers also discovered that eating well lowered the risk of several other common pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes, high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia. 

A healthy diet was considered to be rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grain and nuts, while limiting red and processed meat.

Eating well: Pregnant women who follow a healthy diet from conception to the second trimester are 50 per cent less likely to have a premature birth, a study has found (stock) 

THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET 

A Mediterranean diet incorporates the traditional healthy living habits of people from countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, including France, Greece, Italy and Spain.

The Mediterranean diet varies by country and region, so it has a range of definitions. 

But in general, it’s high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil. It usually includes a low intake of meat and dairy foods.

The Mediterranean diet has been linked with good health, including a healthier heart.

Source: NHS 

The study involved almost 1,900 women who responded to questionnaires on their diets at eight to 13 weeks of pregnancy. They were also asked to estimate what they ate in the previous three months.

Their responses were scored according to three measures of healthy eating: the Alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED), and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.  

Women with a high AMED or DASH score at 24 to 29 weeks were found to have a 50 per cent lower risk of a premature birth.  

Those with a high AHEI score at 16 to 22 weeks had a 32 per cent lower risk of gestational diabetes than pregnant women with a low AHEI score.

 

The study was carried out by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in the US and appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

‘In this multi-racial US cohort of pregnant women, healthier dietary patterns during periconception and pregnancy characterised by higher AHEI, AMED, or DASH scores were related to lower risks of common pregnancy complications including GDM, gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, and preterm delivery,’ the researchers wrote.

Earlier this year a separate study warned that mothers who eat an unhealthy diet during their pregnancy may be setting up their children on a path to weight gain and obesity.

Researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston the investigated the links between an expectant mother’s diet and their children’s growth rates between birth and adolescence.

The team found that a pregnancy diet rich in inflammatory foods including sugars, artificial trans fats and processed meats was associated with greater weight gain in children between the ages of three and ten years of age.

Previous studies have shown that weight gain early in childhood is linked to greater risk of obesity later in childhood, as well as adolescence and adulthood.

Weight issues may begin in pregnancy, the team said, as the pathways that program metabolism, growth and eating behaviours are sensitive to in utero influences.

They recommended that pregnant women consider a Mediterranean diet, which is high in plant-based foods, fish and unsaturated fats, has a low inflammatory potential and may benefit both mother and child’s health.

However, the researchers cautioned that individual nutritional needs during pregnancy can vary and women should consult their doctor to choose their most appropriate diet.

Meanwhile, a study published in 2020 suggested that just one daily cup of coffee during pregnancy may raise the risk of stillbirth.

Every 100mg of caffeine per day during pregnancy – the equivalent of one mug of filter coffee – was linked to a 27 per cent higher risk of a stillbirth.

Caffeine is believed to constrict the blood vessels of the placenta, which can reduce the oxygen reaching an unborn baby.

Just one cup of coffee a day during pregnancy may raise the risk of stillbirth, research suggests 

Just one daily cup of coffee during pregnancy may raise the risk of stillbirth, research published in 2020 suggests.

The British study of more than 1,000 pregnant women, including 290 who had a stillbirth, looked at daily caffeine intake.

Every 100mg of caffeine per day during pregnancy – the equivalent of one mug of filter coffee – was linked to a 27 per cent higher risk of a stillbirth.

Caffeine is believed to constrict the blood vessels of the placenta, which can reduce the oxygen reaching an unborn baby.

Babies in the womb clear caffeine about a third as fast as their mothers, and it can result in an irregular heartbeat.

Professor Alexander Heazell, first author of the study and Director of Tommy’s Maternal and Fetal Health Research Centre at Manchester University, said: ‘This is a relatively small risk, so people shouldn’t be worried about the occasional cup of coffee.

‘But our study has found even a fairly small amount of daily caffeine is linked to a greater risk of stillbirth.’  

Read more: Cup of coffee a day may raise risk of stillbirth, research suggests 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk