A new study conducted in South Wales suggests that maintaining a healthy diet during pregnancy substantially reduces the risk of giving birth to smaller babies.
Researchers at the University of Cardiff asked 303 women undergoing an elective caesarean section to complete a food frequency questionnaire. The responses were analysed alongside information on birth and pregnancy outcomes.
The findings published in PLoS One showed that pregnant women who followed a ‘health conscious’ diet had a significantly lower likelihood of delivering a small-for-gestational-age baby (adjusted OR, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.26-0.99; P=.046). According to recent data, 7% of Welsh infants are classified as having a low birth weight. Such babies not only have a higher risk for neonatal morbidity and mortality and neurocognitive deficits but are also at risk for health complications in the future, including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Professor Ros John, the lead author said: "Our findings suggest that by focusing support on encouraging healthier eating habits in identified areas of Wales, we could reduce the occurrence of lower birth weight babies and the associated health complications, helping to improve future outcomes for infants and their mothers."