Women Health Alert: Eating Junk Food before Getting Pregnant Risks Having Premature Babies
By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | May 27, 2014 2:04 PM EST
Women who aspire to become mums in the future should refrain from eating unhealthy junk food and sugary snacks. A study released by the University of Adelaide said this type of diet is linked with an increased risk of giving birth prematurely.
Researchers at the Robinson Research Institute said the large amounts of fat and sugar in unhealthy junk food as well as take-away foods risks a pregnant woman's chances to deliver a full-term baby.
"Preterm birth is a leading cause of infant disease and death, and occurs in approximately one in 10 pregnancies globally," Dr. Jessica Grieger, a postdoctoral research fellow at the institute, and lead author of the report, said. "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."
According to Mayo Clinic, a premature birth happens more than three weeks before the baby is due, or after less than 37 weeks of pregnancy, which usually lasts about 40 weeks. "Premature birth gives the baby less time to develop in the womb. Premature babies, especially those born earliest, often have complicated medical problems."
Premature babies may also have long-term health problems that may affect their whole lives, the March of Dimes Foundation said. In the U.S. alone, half a million babies are born prematurely each year.
Investigating the dietary patterns of more than 300 women from South Australia, scientists found those who consistently ate a diet of 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, compared to those who often ate foods high in fat and sugar.
"It is important to consume a healthy diet before as well as during pregnancy to support the best outcomes for the mum and baby," Grieger said.
"Diet is an important risk factor that can be modified. It is never too late to make a positive change."
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