Preeclampsia: Mediterranean diet lowers risk

Pregnant women who eat a Mediterranean diet have up to a 20% lower risk of preeclampsia. This is the result of a recent study.

It has long been known that eating a diet high in vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, olive oil, whole grains and fish reduces the risk of heart disease in adults. But pregnant women also benefit: According to a recent study, a Mediterranean diet during pregnancy is associated with a lower risk of preeclampsia. The results are now in the Journal of American Heart Association published.

identify risk factors

Characterized by severe hypertension and liver or kidney damage, preeclampsia is a leading cause of complications and death for the mother and her unborn child. Preeclampsia also more than doubles a woman’s risk of heart diseases such as high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke or heart failure later in life. Women with preeclampsia are at higher risk of having preterm or low birth weight babies; Children born to mothers with preeclampsia are also at higher risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

“Given these health risks for mothers and their children, it is important to identify modifiable factors to prevent the development of preeclampsia, particularly in black women who are at highest risk for this serious pregnancy complication,” said Anum S. Minhas, senior cardiologist and MD in Cardiology, Obstetrics and Advanced Imaging at Johns Hopkins University.

Mediterranean diet: Preeclampsia risk decreases

The study included data from more than 8,500 women enrolled in the Boston birth cohort between 1998 and 2016. The mean age of the participants was 25 years old and they were recruited from Boston Medical Center, which serves a predominantly urban, low-income, racially and ethnically underrepresented population.

Almost half of the participants were Black women (47%), about a quarter were Hispanic women (28%), and the remainder were white women or of some other ethnicity, based on self-reported questionnaires submitted after childbirth. The researchers created an assessment of the Mediterranean diet based on the participants’ responses to feeding frequency interviews and questionnaires completed within three days of delivery.

The analysis revealed:

  • 10% of the study participants developed preeclampsia.
  • Women who had some form of diabetes before pregnancy and were obese before pregnancy were twice as likely to develop preeclampsia as women without these conditions.
  • The risk of preeclampsia was more than 20% lower in women who ate a Mediterranean diet during pregnancy.
  • Black women, who had the lowest scores on the Mediterranean diet, had the highest risk (78%) of preeclampsia compared to all other non-black women who followed the Mediterranean diet more closely.

“Few interventions with significant benefit”

“We were surprised that women who ate a more Mediterranean diet had a significantly lower risk of developing preeclampsia, with black women having the greatest risk reduction,” Minhas said. “This is notable because there are very few interventions during pregnancy that provide appreciable benefits, and medical treatments during pregnancy must be approached with caution to ensure that the benefits outweigh the potential risks to the mother and unborn child.” predominates”.

Minhas added: “Women should be encouraged to lead healthy lifestyles at all stages of life, including a nutritious diet and regular exercise. Regular consumption of healthy foods, including vegetables, fruits and legumes, is especially important for women during pregnancy. Your health during pregnancy impacts your future cardiovascular health and also the health of your baby.”

The limitations of the study are related to the food frequency surveys: they were administered once after pregnancy and were based on self-reports of what foods were eaten and how often.

This article is based on a press release the American Heart Association. You can find the original publication here and in the text.

Image source: Maksim Shutov, unsplash