Healthy Diet May Lower Risk of Birth Defects
A diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains may prevent certain birth
defects, according to a study appearing in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent
Medicine this week. The study compared the diets of 3,824 mothers whose children
experienced birth defects with those of 6,807 mothers of healthy children.
Compared with high-fat, high sugar diets, healthier diets with plenty of folate, iron and
calcium were associated with a one-third lower risk of cleft lip, a one-quarter lower risk
of cleft palate, and a one-fifth lower risk of spina bifida, another neural-tube defect.
Folic acid deficiencies are associated with neural-tube defects and cleft lip and palate.
The researchers took into account whether the women they studied were taking folic acid
in addition to having a healthy diet. Women who followed the healthier diets in the year
before pregnancy were up to one-half as likely than those with unhealthier diets to have a
baby with the neural-tube defect anencephaly.
Researchers said that women of child-bearing age should continue to take folic acid
supplements, since studies have shown it makes a significant impact on reducing birth
Do you eat a healthy diet?