-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Nov. 22, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Certain lifestyle
factors may improve women's chances of having a healthy pregnancy,
according to a new study.
The researchers analyzed data from more than 5,600 women in
England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand to pinpoint lifestyle
factors at 15 to 20 weeks of gestation that were associated with
Helpful lifestyle factors included eating fruit, having a
healthy weight, having lower blood pressure, having a job, and
stopping drug and alcohol abuse, according to the study, which was
published Nov. 21 on the
The findings suggest that encouraging women to make healthy
choices before and during pregnancy "may increase the likelihood of
normal pregnancy outcomes," said Lucy Chappell, of the Women's
Health Academic Center of King's College London, and
Of the women in the study, 61 percent had an uncomplicated
pregnancy. Fewer women in England and Ireland (58 percent) had an
uncomplicated pregnancy than those in Australia and New Zealand (63
The most common pregnancy-related problems were babies who were
too small for their gestational age (11 percent), high blood
pressure (8 percent), preterm birth (4 percent) and a dangerous
spike in blood pressure called preeclampsia (5 percent).
Among the potentially dangerous lifestyle factors that women can
change (modifiable factors) were being overweight, having high
blood pressure and the misuse of drugs, including binge drinking,
the researchers said.
On the other hand, modifiable lifestyle factors that reduced the
risk of problems were high levels of fruit consumption in the month
before pregnancy and working at 15 weeks into pregnancy.
Lifestyle factors beyond women's control that increased the risk
of problems during pregnancy were poverty, having high blood
pressure before pregnancy while taking birth control pills, a
family history of high blood pressure during pregnancy and bleeding
Although the study identified risk factors associated with
pregnancy complications, it did not prove cause-and-effect
The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
outlines how to have a
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