Increased risk of preterm birth risk through poor diet before pregnancy

Statistically, one in ten pregnancies across the globe ends in a preterm birth. The risk for this is influenced by several factors. Australian researchers have now discovered that the mother's diet prior to conception is one of the factors. The study was published in "The Journal of Nutrition".

Scientists from the University of Adelaide analysed the eating patterns among 300 women in Southern Australia before they became pregnant and compared them with outcomes at birth. It showed that those who consistently ate a healthy diet including lean meat, fish, fruit, vegetables and whole grains, had a lower risk of preterm birth.

"On the other hand, women who consumed mainly discretionary foods, such as takeaway, potato chips, cakes, biscuits, and other foods high in saturated fat and sugar were more likely to have babies born preterm", said lead author Jessica Grieger. In fact, the likelihood was 50 per cent higher.

"Preterm birth is a leading cause of infant disease and death", said Grieger. The better one understands the reasons, the more one can do to positively influence the survival and long-term health outcomes for children. Nutrition is considered an important factor in this, which can be relatively easily modified.