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Know More: Low Carbohydrate Intake Linked To Increased Risk Of Birth Defects: Study

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

New research shows that pregnant women shouldn’t reduce consumption of carbohydrate. Pranika Sharma tells you about its potential effects

The latest diet trends recommend replacing carbohydrates with protein. Although, they may be effective for weight loss, they can cause serious birth defects, according to a new study. The study, conducted by the University of North Carolina, suggests that women who are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant should not reduce their daily intake of carbohydrates.

The researchers say that women who have a low carbohydrate intake are 30% more likely to have babies with neural birth defects such as malformations of the spine and the spinal cord, the absence of major portions of the brain and skull, and other lifelong deformities.

Tania Desrosiers, PhD, MPH, and a research assistant professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, who led the study, says, “We already know that maternal diet before and during early pregnancy plays a significant role in foetal development. What is new about this study is its suggestion that low carbohydrate intake could increase the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect by 30%. This is concerning because low carbohydrate diets are fairly popular.”

The study was published in the journal Birth Defects Research and sheds light on the importance of folic acid during pregnancy, linking it to the amount of carbohydrate consumed. Folic acid is an essential nutrient that minimises the risk of neural tube defects. To prevent these defects, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States recommends that folic acid must be added to enriched grain products and fortified foods.

Furthermore, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that women should take multivitamins that have a minimum of 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, before and during their pregnancy.

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