Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
Women who have a poor diet during pregnancy are 50 percent more likely to have a preterm birth, according to a new study from the University of Adelaide. Women who had diets high in protein and fruit were less likely to have a preterm birth, and those who consistently ate foods high in fat and sugar were at the greatest risk. More from ScienceDaily:
Researchers at the University of Adelaide’s Robinson Research Institute investigated the dietary patterns of more than 300 South Australian women to better understand their eating habits before pregnancy.
It’s the first study of its kind to assess women’s diet prior to conception and its association with outcomes at birth.
The results, published in The Journal of Nutrition, show 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, Dr Jessica Grieger, Posdoctoral Research Fellow with the Robinson Research Institute, based at the Lyell McEwin Hospital.
“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,” Dr Grieger says.
“It is important to consume a healthy diet before as well as during pregnancy to support the best outcomes for the mum and baby,” Dr Grieger says.
“Diet is an important risk factor that can be modified. It is never too late to make a positive change. We hope our work will help promote a healthy diet before and during pregnancy. This will help to reduce the number of neonatal deaths and improve the overall health of children,” she says.
Pregnant? Record your food cravings and browse pregnancy books.
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Wednesday, February 19th, 2014
A woman’s diet during pregnancy may directly affect her child’s brain in a way that determines the baby’s risk of becoming obese or overweight during childhood, new research has found. More from The Atlantic:
The article, published in the journal Cell in January, looks at the impact a mother’s diet has on her offspring’s health. This line of research isn’t new—otherstudies have shown links between a woman’s health during pregnancy and her child’s weight later in life—but this is one of the first to provide a potential explanation for this phenomenon.
To explore this, researchers first fed pregnant mice a diet high in fat at varying stages during their pregnancy to figure out when the most critical period was.
It turns out that mother mice that were fed a high-fat diet while they were nursing had significantly heavier male offspring with a higher percentage of body fat than moms fed a normal diet during this time. These males also had higher insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, precursors for type-2 diabetes, even if they themselves consumed a normal diet. Interestingly, these poor health effects were only present in the female offspring if they ate a high-fat diet, but not if they ate normally.
Following this discovery, the researchers looked at what was going on in the brains of these mice that might be linked to their increase in body fat, particularly focusing on the hypothalamus, a major hormonal relay station in the brain that helps to regulate our metabolism. Two chemicals that are maintained through the hypothalamus and are key players in controlling our hunger and satiety are aGRP/Neuropeptide Y, which are released when we’re hungry, stimulating our appetites, and POMC, which is involved in triggering satiety once we’ve eaten.
In baby mice, neurons continue to develop after they’re born, but in humans, neural development is more established at birth. Therefore, the nursing stage in mice actually corresponds to the third trimester of pregnancy in humans, meaning that the most critical period for people is during the last trimester.
In the case of POMC and aGRP, the researchers discovered that there was a lower density of axon fibers—the part of the cell that connects neurons in one area of the hypothalamus to another—in mice with mothers that were fed a high-fat diet. This may then have had an effect on the processing of insulin and glucose in these mice, potentially leading to the glucose intolerance and elevated insulin levels that the scientists witnessed.
Moreover, it appears that a target of these neurons that is involved in suppressing appetite and stimulating the metabolism was also significantly affected. Specifically, the genetic expression of the thyroid-stimulating hormone TRH was significantly lower in the offspring of the high-fat mother mice. This means that there was a reduced potential for the release of this hormone, which is involved in weight-regulation.
Finally, the researchers also found evidence of abnormalities in pancreatic cells, again suggesting an impairment in the processing of glucose and insulin release.
Image: Pregnant woman eating, via Shutterstock
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Friday, November 15th, 2013
An Australian woman who is blogging about her lifestyle during pregnancy is stirring up major debate because of her “healthy” eating plan that many are calling extreme. More from The Huffington Post:
Loni Jane Anthony, a 25-year-old Australian woman who is 26 weeks pregnant, made headlines after giving an interview to News.com.au about her atypical diet, part of which includes a morning meal of 10 bananas.
The nutrition plan is called the 80:10:10 Diet, which is 80 percent carbs, 10 percent fat and 10 percent protein. It was founded by Dr. Douglas Graham, a raw foodist who doesn’t associate the plan with fruitarianism.
Anthony, who claimed to have had health problems in the past because of her poor diet, told News.com.au that transforming her eating habits about three years ago saved her life. Now, her average day starts with warm lemon water in the morning, followed by either half a watermelon, a banana smoothie or whole oranges, then five or six mangos for lunch and a large salad for dinner. She said she has an alcoholic drink once every five months….
But the young mom-to-be’s diet has some raising their eyebrows and wondering if the meal plan is healthy for her unborn child.
“I feel uncomfortable with Loni’s ‘transformation’ because it doesn’t sound safe for her baby,” blogger Ami Angelowicz of The Frisky wrote. “I’m not a doctor, of course, but common sense and the little knowledge I have about nutrition tells me that you have to consume more than bananas and mangoes each day when you’re eating for two. I really try not to concern myself with what other people eat (or how much CrossFit they do), but it seems irresponsible to glorify the extreme fruitarian lifestyle for pregnant women.”
A commenter questioned if her banana intake could lead to hyperkalemia, or high potassium in the blood. Information from the Mayo Clinic on the condition, however, does not suggest it would.
Others, like Mommyish blogger Eva Vawter, doesn’t think Anthony’s diet is anyone’s business. Vawter wrote that even if the 6-month-pregnant woman “ate 90 bags of Cheetos and had an IV of Mountain Dew hooked into her vein” it still wouldn’t be anyone’s business.
The Mayo Clinc advises pregnant women to maintain a diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. It also says that nutrients like folic acid, calcium, vitamin D, protein and iron are important during pregnancy. These can be obtained via foods like spinach, beans, milk, yogurt, salmon, eggs, lentils and poultry.
Could you be pregnant? Take our quiz and find out! We’ve planned your week of pregnancy meals (and snacks).
Image: Mound of bananas, via Shutterstock
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