Mother’s Diet Before And During Pregnancy May Influence Fetal Heart Problems

A new study suggests that what a women eats before and during pregnancy may contribute to complications in her baby, including heart problems, which was an unknown risk factor of congenital heart disease in babies until now.

The study published in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood Fetal & Neonatal Edition researched 19,000 women in the US who were asked about their diet in the year leading up to pregnancy. Half of the women had babies with heart problems while the other half did not. King Faisal hospital nutritionist, Rene Tabaro explains the relationship between maternal nutrition and congenital heart anomalies in babies, according to The New Times.

“Before and after pregnancy, women need to have sufficient supply of foods rich in proteins, iron and mineral salts such as calcium. Foods such as fish, milk and eggs, can be used to serve the protein requirements while rice, posho, potatoes provide carbohydrates and fruits vegetable are taken to provide vitamin. Water as a universal solvent is important to ease digestion. Eating foods which are contaminated puts the baby and the mother at risk of contracting infections hence should be avoided.”

It has already been well established in medical literature that there is a correlation between nutrition and other fetal abnormalities, such as neural tube defects like Spina Bifida if the mother does not have enough Folic Acid in her system when she becomes pregnant, which is why she is advised to begin Folic Acid and/or prenatal vitamins prior to attempting to conceive. There’s also been a correlation between low calorie diets and the adverse effects that maternal Anorexia Nervosa may have on a fetus, as previously reported by the Inquisitr.

Specifically, a heart deformity called Tetralogy of Fallot was named in the study, where the women with the worst diets were most likely to give birth to a baby with this sometimes deadly heart defect. Many heart problems are not detected in babies until they are born because their circulation re-routes once they draw their first breath, and therefore respiratory distress is often a first indication that something is wrong.

According to Tech Times, the American Pregnancy Association states that expectant mothers should take in at least 70 mg of vitamin C every day. Many foods contain vitamin C, which is found in oranges, kiwi, grapefruit, tomatoes and broccoli. Energy and carbohydrates are found in whole grain and enriched products which also provide fiber, vitamin B, and folic acid. Depending on an expectant mother’s weight, six to 11 servings of grains are in a day are needed, but only 200 -300 extra calories a day are required for a woman who begins her pregnancy at an average weight. The old “eat for two” adage may actually contribute to gestational diabetes and a large maternal weight gain, both of which are unhealthy for mother and baby.

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