A diet based on fruits and vegetables, whole grain products and some types of fish seems to reduce the risk of preterm delivery, a new study has revealed.
In the study, which was conducted by researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the 66,000 pregnant Norwegian women completed a scientifically evaluated questionnaire about what they had been eating and drinking since becoming pregnant.
The researchers also had access to information about the women's general lifestyle e.g. level of education, living conditions, income, weight, physical activity, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, number of children and medical factors such as history of preterm delivery.
The results show that the group of women with the 'healthiest' pregnancy diet had a roughly 15 percent 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," Linda Englund-Ogge, researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, said.
Preterm delivery, defined as spontaneous or induced delivery before the end of gestational week 37, can be associated with acute and long-term complications and is a major problem in modern maternity care. Measures to prevent preterm delivery are therefore of high priority.
The study is published in the British Medical Journal.