Study Indicates Link Between Healthy Pregnancy Diet and Birth Defects
Women who eat the right foods and maintain a healthy pregnancy diet may reduce the risk that their children will have spina bifida or a cleft palate a recent study from Stanford University suggests. The study was published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine and claimed that women who had a good quality healthy pregnancy diet reduced the risk for birth defects in their offspring.
Researchers discovered that expectant mothers who followed the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Guide (called MyPlate), or used the Mediterranean diet had a much lower chance of their baby being born with an orafacial cleft or neural tube defect.
Both of these diets put emphasis on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and beans. In fact these items should be eaten every day and most meals should be based on fruits and vegetables. Fish and seafood should be eaten several times a week. Poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt should be eaten in moderation and red meat and sweets should be eaten occasionally. A high quality diet that includes all the good foods and limits the intake of foods that are high in fat is the crux of the study and the big message the study gives.
The findings of the study say that the highest quality diets reduce the risk of spina bifida by 51% and cleft palate by 34%.
In the United States many foods that contain refined grains are fortified with vitamins. This is because the good vitamins are taken out of these foods during the refining process. Folic acid and other B vitamins are common supplements that are added to foods. In addition vitamin D is added to both cereal and milk to boost that vitamin. It is interesting to note that vitamin D plays a large role in the severity of asthma in children.
Earlier research had pointed out that pregnant women who lacked folic acid were more likely to have children with birth defects than other women. The Stanford University study says that folic acid alone will not help prevent birth defects to the extent that a good overall high quality diet will. Since folic acid has been used to fortify foods the incidence of birth defects has dropped significantly since it was added to foods. The reason folic acid was used to fortify common foods was to give women who may becomes pregnant a higher blood level of the vitamin.
Other Pregnancy Diet Research
Recently in a study by Emory University it was discovered that taking fish oil supplements that contain Omega 3 fatty acids while pregnant would help a woman’s infant from getting sick. Expectant mothers who took 400mg of fish oil containing DHA had infants who were 25% less likely to get sick than other infants.
In another recent study it was found that pregnant women who ate foods that were high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) had children with healthy immune systems. The children were less likely to develop childhood allergies than other children. PUFAs are found in foods such as fish, pumpkin seeds, and nuts.
A good healthy pregnancy diet should be carried on after the birth and should definitely be used as part of a good breastfeeding diet.
Overall it is best to eat right at all times. The diet should contain the right kind of fats and limit the wrong fats. Vitamin and nutritional supplements should be taken with the advice of a doctor. A good healthy pregnancy diet should be a well rounded high quality diet based on common sense.