It is not good news that a healthy diet is good for people’s health and that pregnant women should be especially careful since they are carrying another living being inside them. A study published in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood (Fetal and Neonatal Edition) explains how exactly the baby is influenced, more precisely it suggests that mother’s diet can influence the health of the baby’s heart.
The research team studied the link between the risk of congenital heart ailments and the mother’s diet before and during pregnancy. They used data about around 19.000 women who participated in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. The women were required to answer questions regarding both the quantity and the quality of their diet before and during the pregnancy. According to the study half of the participants gave birth to healthy babies, whereas the other half conceived babies that had severe abnormalities in their heart.
In order to verify the quality of the diets the scientists used two scoring systems, namely the Diet Quality Index for Pregnancy (DQI-P) and The Mediterranean Diet Score. The first one was used to measure eight components that exist in the diet of the mother: fruit, vegetables, grains, iron, calcium, folate, patterns of meal and snack consumption and calories derived from fats. The latter scoring system was employed in order to determine how close the diet of the mother was to the Mediterranean diet which is believed to be linked with the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
According to the findings of the study mother who respected the DQI-P system had a lower risk of giving birth to babies that have health problems. Moreover they scored the top 25% of diet quality and had a lower risk of giving birth to unhealthy babies when compared to those participants who scored in the bottom 25 percent.
Heart defects at birth are observed in only one percent of newborn US babies. Even though the percentage is low such conditions are very costly and they can cause severe problems during the development of the child and throughout the years to come.
In order o give birth to healthy babies mothers are recommended to consume between 200 to 300 calories originating from nutrient-dense sources of food such as low-fat dairy, fruit, vegetables and whole grain products.
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