Poor diet before pregnancy is linked with preterm birth

by David Ellis
pregnancy

(Medical Xpress)—University of Adelaide research 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 at the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute investigated the dietary patterns of more than 300 South Australian 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 .

"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 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.

Dr Grieger will present her research findings at the upcoming SA Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian Society for Medical Research during ASMR Medical Research Week on Wednesday 4 June.

More information: Jessica A. Grieger, Luke E. Grzeskowiak, and Vicki L. Clifton. "Preconception Dietary Patterns in Human Pregnancies Are Associated with Preterm Delivery."
J. Nutr. 2014 jn.114.190686; first published online April 30, 2014. DOI: 10.3945/jn.114.190686

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mother's diet linked to premature birth

Mar 04, 2014

Pregnant women who eat a "prudent" diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and who drink water have a significantly reduced risk of preterm delivery, suggests a study published in BMJ today.

Healthy eating may reduce the risk of preterm delivery

Mar 10, 2014

A diet based on fruits and vegetables, whole grain products and some types of fish seems to reduce the risk of preterm delivery. This is the conclusion of a Nordic study on 66,000 pregnant Norwegian women ...

Smoking + asthma + pregnant = a dangerous combination

Sep 05, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—New research from the University of Adelaide has shown for the first time that pregnant women who smoke as well as having asthma are greatly increasing the risk of complications for themselves and their ...

Antidepressants during pregnancy linked to preterm birth

Mar 27, 2014

Antidepressant medications taken by pregnant women are associated with increased rates of preterm birth. This finding reinforces the notion that antidepressants should not be used by pregnant women in the absence of a clear ...

Understanding the mystery of preterm birth

Nov 12, 2013

Researchers at the University of Adelaide's Robinson Institute say there is still a lack of knowledge about the causes of preterm birth and what can be done to prevent it.

Recommended for you

Improving life before it begins

Jul 22, 2014

A group of Mexican specialists in fetal medicine have successfully performed over 200 surgeries on unborn babies, inside the womb of the mother. Doctors, grouped under the signature Fetal Medicine Mexico, ...

Letrozole may help women with PCOS become pregnant

Jul 09, 2014

The drug letrozole results in higher birth rates in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) than the current preferred infertility treatment drug, according to a nationwide study led by Penn State College ...

User comments