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Healthy Pre-Pregnancy Diet Cuts Heart Defects in Newborns


A new study undertaken by researchers from University of Utah suggests that women who eat healthy diet before pregnancy may cut down the risk of certain congenital heart abnormalities in their babies, HealthDay News reports.

"The more you went up in diet quality, the less the risk for severe congenital heart anomalies," said lead author Dr. Lorenzo Botto, a professor of pediatrics and a medical geneticist at the University of Utah School of Medicine, according to HealthDay News.

According to the study, women who followed healthy diet before pregnancy were 37 percent less likely than those who did not follow a healthy diet to have a baby with tetralogy of Fallot, a complex heart defect and 23 percent less likely to have a baby born with an atrial septal defect, or a hole in the heart.

However, the study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between a healthy diet and a lower risk of heart birth defects. It only suggested a link between the two.

The research team studied data from almost 10,000 mothers of babies who were born with heart defects and about 9,500 mothers of healthy babies, who were all born between October 1997 and December 2009. All the women were part of the National Birth Defects Prevention Study.

Researchers graded the diet taken by the women before pregnancy on how closely they followed the Mediterranean Diet and the Diet Quality Index for Pregnancy.

The study suggests that eating a nutritious diet boosts the mother's health, which in turn boosts the immunity of the developing fetus to withstand genetic or environmental factors that might cause a heart defect.

"We know that having a healthy woman tends to lead to a healthy baby," Botto said, according to HealthDay News.

The study appeared in the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood (Fetal & Neonatal Edition).

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