Skip to content

    Health & Pregnancy

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Balanced Diet During Pregnancy May Lower Risk of Preterm Delivery

    Increasing intake of healthy foods more important than eliminating unhealthy foods, study finds

    WebMD News from HealthDay

    By Robert Preidt

    HealthDay Reporter

    TUESDAY, March 4, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Expectant mothers are often told to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and a new study adds to evidence that a healthy diet is linked to a reduced risk of premature birth.

    Researchers analyzed data gathered from more than 66,000 pregnant women in Norway between 2002 and 2008. Premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) occurred in slightly more than 5 percent of the pregnancies.

    Women who ate a "prudent" diet that included plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and water had a much lower risk of preterm delivery, as did those with a traditional Norwegian diet of boiled potatoes, fish and cooked vegetables, the investigators found.

    A Western diet of salty and sweet snacks, white bread, desserts and processed meat products did not seem to have an effect on the risk of premature birth, according to the study, which was published online March 4 in the journal BMJ.

    This suggests that increasing consumption of healthy foods is more important than eliminating unhealthy foods, the researchers said. The findings also support advice given to pregnant women to eat a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and water.

    However, although the study found an association between eating a healthy diet during pregnancy and a lower risk of preterm delivery, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

    The study authors said premature birth can lead to major short- and long-term health problems, and it accounts for nearly 75 percent of all newborn deaths.

    Healthy eating during pregnancy is always a good idea, according to an accompanying editorial by Lucilla Poston, of King's College London.

    Poston said several studies have suggested that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help prevent premature birth. "[Health professionals] would therefore be well advised to reinforce the message that pregnant women eat a healthy diet," she said.

    Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

    Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
    what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

    Today on WebMD

    hand circling date on calendar
    Track your most fertile days.
    woman looking at ultrasound
    Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
     
    Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
    The signs to watch out for.
    pregnant woman in hospital
    Are there ways to do it naturally?
     
    slideshow fetal development
    Slideshow
    pregnancy first trimester warning signs
    Article
     
    What Causes Bipolar
    Video
    Woman trying on dress in store
    Slideshow
     
    pregnant woman
    Article
    Woman looking at pregnancy test
    Quiz
     
    calendar and baby buggy
    Tool
    dark chocolate squares
    Slideshow