Junk food ahead of pregnancy may harm baby-to-be

Poor pregestation diet linked to higher preterm delivery risk

1:57pm, June 23, 2014

THE GOOD, THE BAD  Eating a healthful diet that's high in protein before pregnancy might lessen the risk that a woman will deliver preterm,  whereas consuming a junk food–laden diet seems to increase it.

For a healthy baby, a woman’s diet before pregnancy seems to matter. Consuming a lot of sugars, fats and take-out foods might increase the likelihood of delivering a baby preterm, Australian researchers report in the July Journal of Nutrition.

Preterm birth, defined as birth before 37 weeks of gestation, increases the risk of infant mortality or health problems later in life. While healthful eating during pregnancy has been associated with a lower risk of preterm birth, the study authors say that their findings now extend this link to the period before conception.

Poor nutrition, says study coauthor Jessica Grieger, a nutrition researcher at the University of Adelaide, may promote inflammation in women and activate hormones such as oxytocin and cortisol that have been linked to preterm birth. 

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