Birth defects of the brain and spine have been found to be twice as high for women who eat lots of sugary, high glycemic and processed foods around the time of conception. If the mother is also obese the risk of having a baby with these problems is quadrupled.
Researchers at the University of California Berkeley Birth Defects Monitoring Program compared the diets of over 900 mothers. Half of the women had children with birth defects like spina bifida and half had healthy children. Their findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, linked the eating of high glycemic foods to neural tube defects in newborn babies.
High glycemic foods, such as potatoes, white bread, white rice, sweets and soft drinks, are quickly digested and absorbed. They release large amounts of glucose into the blood, giving a sugar rush, followed by low blood sugar.
The scientists at U.C. Berkeley believe that the quick jump in blood sugar levels in pregnant mothers from eating sugary foods may interfere with the development of the fetus and be involved in causing neural tube defects. Eating these foods at the time of conception and early in pregnancy, when the brain and spine of the baby are being formed, doubled the risk of complications. Obese women who ate the largest amounts of high glycemic foods had four times the risk of those obese women who ate a lower glycemic diet abundant in fiber-rich whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables.
It always makes good sense, in all stages of life, to eat a highly nutritious diet. If you or someone you care about intends to be a mother of healthy children, it doesn’t pay to wait till after getting a positive pregnancy test. Since half of all pregnancies are unplanned, all women of child bearing age need to eat right and take supplements that include folic acid. No matter what your circumstances or plans for the future, start developing healthy habits right now!
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Note: The information contained on this website is not intended to be prescriptive. Any attempt to diagnose or treat an illness should come under the direction of a physician who is familiar with nutritional therapy.