October 4, 2011
Mother’s Overall Diet Affects Fetus Health
According to a new study, available online by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, researchers found that overall quality of diet had a greater impact on fetus health than single nutrient supplementation.
The authors of the study note that folic acid supplementation and food fortification has helped in reducing or preventing neural tube defects, but it does not prevent all birth defects. The authors write, “Nutrition research on birth defects has tended to focus on one nutrient (or nutritional factor) at a time. However, the reality of nutrition is much more complex.”
The women who scored higher on the indices were calculated to have a higher quality diet and showed fewer birth defects. These women had 24 to 34 percent protection against giving birth to a child with cleft lip. The higher quality diet was also protective against spina bifida and cleft palate.
Researchers are puzzled as to why the overall diet has a greater effect than single nutrient supplementation. But they think the combined nutrients work together. They also think that eating higher quality foods leaves less room for junk foods in the diet.
Dr. Suzan Carmichael from Stanford University Medical Center and first author of the study said: “We may be capturing qualities of these foods that are beneficial to health but haven´t been measured in isolation. In our bodies, nutrients interact. They don´t just act in isolation; they depend on each other. So, for instance, eating fruits and vegetables that deliver several nutrients simultaneously may have greater benefits than consuming more of a single nutrient.”
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