Preconception Maternal Diet Linked to Birth Outcomes

Jessica A. Grieger (BSc(hons), R Nutr, PhD) Post-doctoral research fellow Robinson Research Institute, University of Interview with:
Jessica A. Grieger (BSc(hons), R Nutr, PhD)
Post-doctoral research fellow
Robinson Research Institute, University of Adelaide


MedicalResearch:  What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Grieger: The study aimed to identify associations between maternal dietary patterns in the 12 months before conception on fetal growth and preterm delivery. We report that a one standard deviation increase in the scores on the high-protein/fruit pattern was associated with decreased likelihood for preterm birth, whereas a one standard deviation increase on the high-fat/sugar/takeaway pattern was associated with increased likelihood for preterm birth as well as shorter gestation and birth length.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Grieger: Our results suggest that preconception diet is an important factor relevant to perinatal outcomes. In particular, a diet mainly consisting of discretionary items such as take-away foods, potato chips, refined grains and added sugar is associated with preterm birth, whereas a pattern consisting of fish, meat, chicken, fruit and some whole grains was protective. Preterm birth is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Our work highlights the importance of promoting a healthy diet before pregnancy to optimise outcomes for both the mother and baby.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Grieger: Larger dietary pattern studies are required to support our results. Our sample was a group of women living in a region of low socioeconomic status, therefore subsequent analyses could be assessed in women of higher socioeconomic status to understand whether similar associations exist. Behaviour-change strategies might be a necessary component to assist women in adopting a healthier dietary pattern both before and during pregnancy.

Preconception Dietary Patterns in Human Pregnancies Are Associated with Preterm Delivery.
Jessica A. Grieger, Luke E. Grzeskowiak, and Vicki L. Clifton
J. Nutr. 2014 jn.114.190686; first published online April 30, 2014. doi:10.3945/jn.114.190686