Hey, we all love our sweets and occasional Chinese take-out, but it turns out those things can do harm to your baby even BEFORE you are pregnant! Gasp!
Jessica Grieger, a nutrition researcher at the University of Adelaide, says that a diet high in sugars, fats, and take-out promote inflammation and activate hormones, such as oxytocin and cortisol, that have been linked to preterm birth.
Preterm birth increases the risk of infant mortality or health problems later in life. On the contrary, healthy eating during pregnancy has been associated with lowering preterm birth. Authors of the study are now saying that a healthy diet can affect your babies health even BEFORE conception.
Greiger and her colleagues ran their study on 309 women who had recently become pregnant and obtained their dietary intake for the year leading up to conception. The researchers then scored each woman based on how much of her diet drew from three categories:
1. High-protein Diet (Fish, Whole Grains, Chicken, Fruit)
2. Diet with Veggies (Legumes, Whole Grains)
3. Take-out Diet (Refined Grains, Sugars, Junk food).
After the women gave birth, the researchers discovered that those who mostly ate a high protein diet before conception were the least likely to give birth preterm. But women consuming a higher junk food score were the most likely to have premature babies.
However, it was noted that eating patterns before and after pregnancy often overlap because many women don’t know exactly when they become pregnant and because many pregnancies are not planned. A study conducted in 2009 found that even though many women will reduce the alcohol, smoking, and caffeine intake after pregnancy, they are not as quick to change their normal eating habits.
So whether you’re pregnant or just waiting to be, a healthy diet is the best way to ensure a healthy baby!