Healthy Diet Reduces Risk of Preterm Delivery by 15%

Pregnant women who consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole-grains and some fish reduce their risk of preterm delivery by 15% compared to pregnant women who eat unhealthy diets, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

GOTHENBURG, Sweden—Pregnant women who consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole-grains and some fish reduce their risk of preterm delivery by 15% compared to pregnant women who eat unhealthy diets, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health conducted the study to investigate whether an association exists between maternal dietary patterns and risk of preterm delivery. They examined 66,000 pregnant Norwegian women, along with information regarding their general lifestyle such as living conditions, level of education, weight, smoking habits, income, alcohol consumption, medical factors, including preterm delivery and number of children.

They found the group of women with the healthiest pregnancy diet had a roughly 15% lower risk of preterm delivery compared with those with the most unhealthy diet. The correlation remained after controlling for ten other known risk factors for preterm delivery.

“Pregnant women have many reasons to choose a healthy diet with lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grain products and some types of fish, but this is the first time we can statistically link healthy eating habits to reduced risk of preterm delivery," said Linda Englund-Ögge, researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

A 2013 study published in BMJ found that women who consume a healthy diet, which includes at least three servings of fruit per day, can increase their chance of an uncomplicated pregnancy, with decreased risk of complications such as pre-eclampsia or premature birth. Other important factors include maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure levels.

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