The Mediterranean Diet May Decrease Pregnancy Complications

Pregnant women adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet have less adverse pregnancy outcomes (APOs), according to a new study published in JAMA Network Open.

According to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2022 report, pregnancy-related mortality has been on the rise over the past 30 years, and APOs are chief contributing factors associated with pregnancy morbidity and death. They also increase the subsequent risk of women developing metabolic diseases, cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, and outright CVD.

The Mediterranean diet, which is characterized by a high consumption of foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and plant-based foods, and a low consumption of saturated fats and processed meats, has been associated with overall health and longevity. Therefore, the investigators of this study postulated that adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet regimen can reduce the risk of APOs.

To test their hypothesis, the researchers conducted a prospective, multicenter, cohort study comprised of 7,798 racially, ethnically, and geographically diverse women with singleton pregnancies who had complete diet data available. The main outcome of interest was APOs, defined as developing one or more of the following conditions: preeclampsia or eclampsia, gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, preterm birth, delivery of a small-for-gestational-age infant, or stillbirth. Data were analyzed between June 3, 2021, and April 7, 2022.

According to the results, women with a high adherence to the Mediterranean diet had a 21% lower odds of any APO, with no differences observed based on race, ethnicity, and pre-pregnancy body mass index, but a stronger correlation found among women aged 35 years or older. “We demonstrate that a Mediterranean diet pattern is associated with lower risk of developing any APO and multiple individual APOs in US women, with evidence of a dose-response association. Our findings add to the growing body of evidence demonstrating that the Mediterranean diet pattern may play an important role in preserving the health of women across the lifespan, including during pregnancy,” the researchers concluded.