Healthy diet ‘could reduce risk’ of pregnancy complications

pregnantCertain modifications to lifestyle factors both in the months prior to, and during pregnancy, could ensure a woman has a healthy pregnancy without complications, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.

A study led by scientists at King’s College London, found that by maintaining a healthy weight, adhering to a healthy diet, and with a normal blood pressure (90/60 – 139/89 is generally deemed ‘normal’), then this can increase the possibility of the woman’s pregnancy going smoothly without encountering problems.

Unlike studies that have been conducted previously, researchers homed in on things than can boost the chances of women having a successful pregnancy and healthy baby, instead of analysing problematic issues.

For the study, the researchers assessed over 5,600 expecting first-time mothers from around the world including the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia.

None were due any more than one baby, and all women were quizzed on their previous medical history and dietary habits.

Blood pressure was taken and each woman had an ultrasound scan when they were between 10 and 21 weeks pregnant. Information about their births and babies was amalgamated obviously after each woman had given birth.

Of all those who participated in the study, 3,452 (61%) had an uncomplicated pregnancy. A lower proportion of women in the UK and Ireland had an uncomplicated pregnancy (58%) in comparison to their Australasian counterparts. (63%).

Common health problems for the women were found to be gestational hypertension (8%) and pre-eclampsia (5%). Meanwhile, being small for gestational age (11%) and premature birth (4%) were common issues among babies.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was discovered that maintaining a healthy diet – including at least three pieces a day – in the month before conception, meant the women were less likely to have any pregnancy problems.

The researchers say this backs up findings from past studies which show high fruit and vegetable intake during pregnancy can lower the risk of pre-eclampsia, premature birth and can result in babies born with a higher birth weight.

Commenting on their findings, the researchers say: “Based on a large prospective cohort study of healthy nulliparous women, we identified, replicated, and externally confirmed improvable factors associated with uncomplicated pregnancy. These related to optimizing weight, diet, cardiovascular fitness, and cessation of illicit drug use. Providing confirmation is forthcoming from other cohorts, this study should inform development of interventions to increase normal pregnancy outcomes.”

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