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03 June 2014

Evidence links poor diet to preterm birth

In a study, women who ate protein-rich foods including lean meats, fish and chicken, as well as fruit, whole grains and vegetables, had a significantly lower risk of preterm birth.

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Women with poor diets before pregnancy are more likely to give birth prematurely than women who have healthy diets, a new study from Australia confirms.

"Preterm birth is a leading cause of infant disease and death and occurs in approximately one in 10 pregnancies globally." said lead author Dr Jessica Grieger, a postdoctoral research fellow with the University of Adelaide's Robinson Research Institute. "Anything we can do to better understand the conditions that lead to preterm birth will be important in helping to improve survival and long-term health outcomes for children."

The research doesn't prove that poor eating habits directly cause preterm births, but it adds to evidence linking the two.

Saturated fat and sugar

The findings, to be published in the print issue of the Journal of Nutrition, are based on an analysis of the diets of over 300 Australian women. Researchers focused on diets in the 12 months before conception.

"In our study, women who ate protein-rich foods including lean meats, fish and chicken, as well as fruit, whole grains and vegetables, had significantly lower risk of preterm birth," Grieger said in a university news release.

Read: Poor maternal diet ups risk of diabetes

"On the other hand, women who consumed mainly discretionary foods, such as [takeout], potato chips, cakes, biscuits, and other foods high in saturated fat and sugar were more likely to have babies born preterm," she added.

Grieger is scheduled to present the findings at the annual meeting of the Australian Society for Medical Research.

Read more:
Pre-pregnancy diet can affect baby
Poor nutrition can affect your sleep


 
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