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Health

Popular diet could increase risk of birth defects

Friday 02/February/2018 - 01:36 PM
Sada El Balad
New research demonstrates that consuming a low-carbohydrate diet during pregnancy may increase the risk of certain birth defects by 30 percent.Medics Today said.
Neural tube defects (NTDs) are malformations of the brain، spine، and spinal cord. They develop before birth and include spina bifida، wherein the spinal column does not close completely، and anencephaly، wherein large portions of brain and skull are missing.

Research carried out over decades conclusively demonstrated that folic acid can reduce the risk of babies being born with NTDs.

Because folate massively decreases the risk of NTDs، the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that all grains and cereals should be enriched with 140 micrograms of folic acid per 100 grams of product by January 1998.

As soon as the fortification began، cases of birth defects plummeted. Adding folic acid to food prevents more than 1،300 NTD cases each year in the United States.

Today، low-carb diets are increasingly popular. According to a recent study، this may be undoing much of the good work that folic acid fortification has done.

Restricting carbohydrate intake often means avoiding the food products that are fortified with folic acid، such as bread، cereal، and pasta. In fact، low-carb diets are associated with a reduced intake of a number of micronutrients.

Scientists from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill hypothesized that "women who restrict carbohydrates may have suboptimal folate status and subsequently may be at higher risk of having an NTD-affected pregnancy." Their results were published earlier this month in the journal Birth Defects Research.

To test their hypothesis، the scientists took data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study، which ran from 1998 to 2011. The dataset included 11،285 pregnant women from Arkansas، California، Georgia، Iowa، Massachusetts، New York، North Carolina، Texas، and Utah.

The scientists were led by Tania Desrosiers، Ph.D.، a research assistant professor of epidemiology at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Of the participants، 1،740 had "infants، stillbirths، and terminations with anencephaly or spina bifida." Folic acid and carbohydrate intake before conception were estimated using questionnaire data. The researchers also tracked race، alcohol consumption، and education، among other factors.

Edited by rehab sayed

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