-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, March 4, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Expectant mothers are
often told to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and a new study
adds to evidence that a healthy diet is linked to a reduced risk of
Researchers analyzed data gathered from more than 66,000
pregnant women in Norway between 2002 and 2008. Premature birth
(before 37 weeks of pregnancy) occurred in slightly more than 5
percent of the pregnancies.
Women who ate a "prudent" diet that included plenty of
vegetables, fruits, whole grains and water had a much lower risk of
preterm delivery, as did those with a traditional Norwegian diet of
boiled potatoes, fish and cooked vegetables, the investigators
A Western diet of salty and sweet snacks, white bread, desserts
and processed meat products did not seem to have an effect on the
risk of premature birth, according to the study, which was
published online March 4 in the journal
This suggests that increasing consumption of healthy foods is
more important than eliminating unhealthy foods, the researchers
said. The findings also support advice given to pregnant women to
eat a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains,
fish and water.
However, although the study found an association between eating
a healthy diet during pregnancy and a lower risk of preterm
delivery, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.
The study authors said premature birth can lead to major short-
and long-term health problems, and it accounts for nearly 75
percent of all newborn deaths.
Healthy eating during pregnancy is always a good idea, according
to an accompanying editorial by Lucilla Poston, of King's College
Poston said several studies have suggested that a diet rich in
fruits and vegetables can help prevent premature birth. "[Health
professionals] would therefore be well advised to reinforce the
message that pregnant women eat a healthy diet," she said.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers
tips for a healthy pregnancy.
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