Can A Healthy Diet Prevent Birth Defects?
As an expectant mother you would want the best for your unborn child. You want to do everything it takes to give birth to a healthy child. After all, you have been protecting the baby for 9 months and will want it protect it as much as you can, even after the miracle of birth.
Very often though, babies are born with structural or functional abnormalities that develop in the uterus. Many times, these birth defects form during the first trimester of pregnancy; when the organs of the baby start forming. These birth defects can be either minor or severe. The more sever ones can also cause deaths in babies.
The whole process of pregnancy and giving birth is most of the time quite scary to first time mothers. And prevention of any kind of complications in your baby’s health is a priority at all times. Birth defects is one such complication you should know more about.
Types of birth defects
Birth defects are categorized into two types,
When there is a problem with the functioning of a body system, the defect is categorized as functional. For example developmental disabilities, mental disorders, or degeneration of the body system. Functional disorders are often much more severe and lead to early death of the baby.
What can cause birth defects?
Although exact causes of birth defects are not known doctors and medical researchers cite genetic disorders as the most common factor that leads to birth defects. Other factors may include the environment surrounding the pregnant women. Drug abuse and alcohol abuse may also contribute though there is no scientific proof of birth defects being a direct result of substance abuse.
Does a healthy diet help?
All mothers-to-be are advised that pregnancy is a time their body will demand higher levels of nutrition than any other time. It is one of those rare times women can indulge in good, healthy food that they need; without feeling a least bit guilty. Women are asked by their dear ones, dieticians, doctors, and by the internet to eat so much that they often get tired or bored of eating.
However, pregnancy should not be an excuse to have an eat-all you want junk food buffet. While eating is recommended, the keyword is nutrition.
Over the years, medical researchers have carried out many studies that indicate a correlation between a healthy nutrition rich diet and reduction of birth defect risks.
Generally, when dieticians and nutritionists talk of a healthy diet, they specifically mean a diet that consists of all food present in a food pyramid- vitamins, proteins, minerals, carbohydrates, and fats. However, it is important that all expectant mothers follow a diet that has been specified by their own doctor.
Research also points out that a diet rich in folic acid contributes in the prevention of neural tube defects. Women are advised to start taking folic acid if they are planning to get pregnant and for the first three months of their pregnancy. Leafy vegetables, grains, and citrus fruits like oranges are an excellent source of folic acid.
Regular intake of Vitamin B complex will benefit all ladies expecting babies. That’s why you are encouraged to have milk, and other dairy products like curd and cottage cheese. When you’re expecting you will need to get you nutrient from varied sources. And so you also need to include protein in your diet. Eating Eggs, and poultry meat regularly should help you get the protein you require. And if you are a vegetarian you can get your protein from a variety of pulses.
To prevent structural defects, expectant mothers can also include Omega 3 Fats in their diet. This will additionally help develop your baby’s body. Omega 3 fats can be consumed through fish oil or supplements that contain omega 3 fats.
Higher than normal levels of Vitamin A can increase the risk of numerous dangerous birth defects. The amount of multivitamin you take should not exceed 5000 units of vitamin A. Pregnant women who are taking supplements should check the levels of vitamins.
A healthy diet does not only mean consuming healthy food. It also means avoiding or totally giving up on certain food or substance that may be harming you and your baby. Medical research specifies that consumption of alcohol may increase risks and complications during and after birth. These risks include birth defects and can be prevented by avoiding alcohol intake. Drugs and other substance abuse is also harmful for you and your baby.
As a pregnant women who is giving birth to another life, your body’s needs are high. You are after all, taking care of someone you want to protect always.
So now you know if a healthy diet can help to prevent birth defects?
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