The overall quality of a pregnant woman’s diet is linked with risk for two types of serious birth defects, a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine has shown. In the study, women who ate better before and during pregnancy gave birth to fewer infants with malformations of the brain and spinal cord, or orofacial clefts, such as cleft lip and cleft palate.
Prior research on diet and birth defects has generally addressed one nutrient at a time. For instance, the B vitamin folic acid has been shown to protect against brain or spinal cord malformations known as neural tube defects, which include anencephaly (a fatal defect in which the brain is lacking) and spina bifida (an opening in the spinal column). However, after fortification of the U.S. food supply with folic acid was implemented in 1998, these types of birth defects did not completely disappear. And other defects, including cleft lip and palate, remained a concern in the population.
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Overall quality of pregnant woman’s diet affects risk for two birth defects, study shows