Healthy Pregnancy Diet Linked to Lower Preterm Labor Risk

Women who eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins are fifteen percent less likely to deliver their babies prematurely, according to a new study published by Swedish researchers.

‘Pregnant women have many reasons to choose a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grain products and some types of fish, but this is the first time we can statistically link healthy eating habits to reduced risk of preterm delivery,’ says Linda Englund-Ögge, researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

Preterm delivery, defined as spontaneous or induced delivery before the end of gestational week 37, can be associated with acute and long-term complications and is a major problem in modern maternity care. Measures to prevent preterm delivery are therefore of high priority.

When asked whether these findings should lead to stricter dietary standards or guidelines for pregnant women, Englund-Ögge said, “No, and it is not harmful to occasionally eat something unhealthy. But our study shows that the dietary recommendations given to pregnant women are important.”

She continued, “Dietary studies can be very complex. Any given food item may contain a wide range of substances and is usually consumed together with other foods. This makes it difficult to find out its exact effects of one single food. We show that there is a statistically established link between a healthy diet and reduced risk of preterm delivery, but our study wasn’t designed to identify any underlying mechanisms.”

Image: Pregnant woman eating, via Shutterstock

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