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Popular Diet Can Reduce Preeclampsia And Gestational Diabetes Risk- By More Than 28% As Backed By New Study

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Preeclampsia is a dangerous blood pressure disorder that develops during pregnancy and puts the mother’s heart under strain. If the problem is not addressed, it may lead to major side effects including impaired kidney and liver function and reduced blood flow to the baby.

In a new study that looked at the Mediterranean diet and bad pregnancy outcomes, researchers from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai found that women who got pregnant while following the anti-inflammatory diet had a much lower chance of getting preeclampsia.

Research published today in JAMA examined the link between the Mediterranean diet and a variety of unfavorable pregnancy outcomes, such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension, premature birth, small-for-gestational-age child delivery, and stillbirth.

According to Natalie Bello, MD, MPH, senior and corresponding author of the study and director of Hypertension Research at the Smidt Heart Institute, “This multicenter, population-based study validates that a healthier eating pattern is associated with a lower risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, with the most exciting being a 28% lower risk for preeclampsia.” This association between the Mediterranean diet and a reduced risk of unfavorable pregnancy outcomes was seen in a group that was geographically, racially, and culturally varied.

Bello adds that the relationship was greater in women, age 35 or older, who are often seen as being in their advanced maternal years.

Preeclampsia is a dangerous blood pressure disorder that develops during pregnancy and puts the mother’s heart under strain. If the problem is not addressed, it may lead to major side effects include impaired kidney and liver function and reduced blood flow to the baby.

In addition to a lower risk of preeclampsia, women who strictly followed a heart-healthy diet also had a lower risk of gestational diabetes.

10,038 pregnant women were followed as part of the Nulliparous Pregnancy Outcomes Study: Monitoring Mothers-to-be between 2010-2013. 

The JAMA Network Open study included 7,798 women.

During their first study visit, in the first trimester, women who were pregnant with their first child were asked to fill out a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire.

The questionnaire asked the women about what they ate and drank in the three months before their visit. It focused on how often they ate and drank common foods and drinks. To determine a Mediterranean diet score, answers from participants were divided into the nine categories of a Mediterranean diet: red and processed meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and alcohol.

Researchers gathered, evaluated, and analyzed the data, which revealed:

10% of the 7,798 registered women were older than 35, 11% were non-Hispanic Black, 17% were Hispanic, and 4% were Asian.
At the start of the study, 20% of the participants were obese.
A high score on the Mediterranean diet was linked to a 21% lower chance of any bad pregnancy outcome and a 28% and 37% lower chance of preeclampsia/eclampsia and gestational diabetes, respectively.

Bello adds, “We also looked at the individual components of the Mediterranean diet and found higher intakes of vegetables, legumes and fish were related to lower associated risk of an adverse pregnancy outcome”.

According to Christine Albert, MD, MPH, Chair of the Department of Cardiology, the findings of this study suggest that a Mediterranean diet may be an effective way for women in the United States to reduce the risk of negative pregnancy outcomes, especially in women who are older when they become pregnant. Dr. Albert was not directly involved in the study.

Prior to this, there were only three observational studies that looked at the connection between adhering to this healthy food pattern around the time of conception and the risk of developing preeclampsia. Each of these studies had a very small number of individuals.

According to Albert, “these findings add to the growing body of evidence demonstrating that the Mediterranean-style diet may play an important role in preserving the health of women across the lifespan, including during pregnancy.”

Long-term research are required, according to Bello, to determine if encouraging a Mediterranean-style diet before conception and throughout pregnancy might avoid negative pregnancy outcomes and lower future cardiovascular risk.

Source: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.48165

Image Credit: Getty

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