In a report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who ate sugary and processed foods while pregnant apparently doubled their risk of birth defects. Women who were obese quadrupled that risk.
The report took 454 women whose children had birth defects such as spina bifida. It compared their eating habits against 462 women who had healthy babies. The woman who had birth defect children were twice as likely to have eaten a diet rich in sugar and processed food. The overweight women in the study were four times as likely to have a child with a problem.
The researchers theorize that the sugary and processed foods cause a glucose spike in the unborn child, and that glucose interferes with the baby's growth - specifically with how the spinal column forms.
High glycemic index foods, or GI foods, are the ones the study was tracking. These are the foods looked down on by low carb dieters as causing blood sugar spikes. They would include white bread, baked potatoes, white rice and sodas.
Researchers are busy doing even more studies into this situation, to see if they can find out more information about the link. But in the meantime, some doctors are advising that pregnant woman stick to fresh vegetables, grilled meat and avoid high carb foods.
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