Healthy eating may reduce the risk of preterm delivery: Population data

Healthy eating may reduce the risk of preterm delivery: Population data

A healthy diet packed with fruit, vegetables, and omega-3 rich fish could help to reduce the risk of pre-term babies, according to new research.

The large-scale population study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), reports that women with the 'healthiest' pregnancy diet had a roughly 15% lower risk of preterm delivery compared with those with the most unhealthy diet. The correlation remained after controlling for ten other known risk factors for preterm delivery.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the prospective cohort study followed 66,000 pregnant women throughout pregnancy in order to assess how food and drink intake related to measures of health in their babies.

Led by Linda Englund-Ögge, the team found suggestions that increasing the intake of foods associated with a ‘healthy’ or ‘prudent’ dietary pattern may be more important than totally excluding ‘unhealthy’ processed foods, fast foods, junk foods, and snacks.

“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,” said Englund-Ögge.

“Although these findings cannot establish causality, they support dietary advice to pregnant women to eat a balanced diet including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and fish and to drink water,” concluded the team.

Study details

The 66,000 participants completed a scientifically evaluated questionnaire about what they had been eating and drinking since becoming pregnant. This data was used in conjunction with information about the women's general lifestyle – such as level of education, living conditions, income, weight, physical activity, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, number of children and medical factors such as history of preterm delivery.

“We found that an overall “prudent” dietary pattern was associated with a reduced risk of preterm delivery, especially in the subgroups of late preterm delivery and spontaneous preterm delivery and in nulliparous women,” the researchers found.

“We also found a significantly reduced risk of preterm delivery for the “traditional” dietary pattern. These findings are important, as prevention of preterm delivery is of major importance in modern obstetrics.”

The team added that no independent association was found between the ‘Western’ dietary pattern and preterm delivery, “indicating that low adherence to a prudent pattern is a stronger indicator of unhealthy dietary behaviour than intake of processed food, fast food, junk food, and snacks.”

Source: BMJ
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1136/bmj.g1446
“Maternal dietary patterns and preterm delivery: results from large prospective cohort study”
Authors: Linda Englund-Ögge, Anne Lise Brantsæter, et al

Related News

Vitamin D deficiency prevalence 65.2% for preterm babies, compared to 40.4% for full-term newborns, research finds.

Vitamin A, E, and D deficiencies ‘dramatically’ higher in preterm babies

Omega-3-rich fish intake during pregnancy may boost birth weight for babies: European data

Omega-3-rich fish intake during pregnancy may boost birth weight for babies: European data

"More generally, our findings highlight a point often overlooked in adult medicine, which is that adverse foetal exposures that cause subtle changes in developing organs can have lifelong consequences."

Maternal vitamin A deficiency linked to postnatal asthma: Mouse data

Poor maternal diet may rewire babies’ brains for lifelong risk of obesity: Study

Poor maternal diet may rewire babies’ brains for lifelong risk of obesity: Study

Probiotics during pregnancy and infancy no benefit for asthma: BMJ analysis

Probiotics during pregnancy and infancy no benefit for asthma: BMJ analysis

Low vitamin D during pregnancy linked to preterm birth in non-white mothers

Low vitamin D during pregnancy linked to preterm birth in non-white mothers

Eggs are a good source of dietary vitamin D

Maternal vitamin D levels 'not associated with child's bone health', says research

Babies vitamin D status impacts immune system development

Babies vitamin D status impacts immune system development: Study

Maternal omega-3 supplements reduce preterm birth risk: Study

Maternal omega-3 supplements reduce preterm birth risk: Study

Related Products

See more related products