Diet high in fruits, vegetables lowers risk of preterm delivery

A new study shows how eating certain foods helps cut down risk of preterm delivery for pregnant women.

A new study published in the British Medical Journal found women who consume a “prudent” diet high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains have a lower risk of preterm delivery. Preterm delivery is defined as one between 22 and 37 weeks of pregnancy and is associated with adverse health effects.

Building on previous evidence concerning maternal diet and unborn children, researchers in Norway, Iceland and Sweden used data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study to analyse preterm births among 66,000 women between 2002 and 2008. Participants who successfully delivered one baby, were diabetes-free and completed a validated food frequency questionnaire on dietary habits from the first four to five months of pregnancy were included in the study.

Factors believed to affect results include mother’s age, education and history of preterm births. Researchers identified three distinct dietary patterns: “prudent”, “Western” and “traditional”.

The prudent diet consisted of vegetables, fruits, oils, whole grain cereals, fiber-rich bread, poultry and water. Western included sweet and salty snacks, desserts, white bread and processed meat products, while traditional featured cooked vegetables, low fat milk, potatoes, fish and gravy.

Out of the 66,000 women, 3,505 or 5.3% had preterm deliveries. The research team found the prudent diet linked to lowered risk of preterm delivery, particularly among women having their first baby. A reduced risk was linked to the traditional diet as well.

Researchers note pregnant women should increase their intake of prudent diet foods, saying this is more important than a total exclusion of processed food, fast food, snacks and junk food. — AFP Relaxnews

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