Low-Carb Diet During Pregnancy: Here’s Why They Boost Risk for Serious Birth Defects

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Low-Carb Diet During Pregnancy May be Risky, Study Finds

Having a Baby? Don’t Skimp on Carbs!

Following a low-carb diet during pregnancy may increase a woman’s risk of having a baby with serious birth defects, a study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill suggests.

Compared with pregnant women who didn’t restrict their carbohydrate intake, those on a diet that reduced or eliminated carbs were 30 percent more likely to have babies with neural tube defects. Those include spina bifida (spine and spinal cord malformations) and anencephaly (missing parts of the brain and skull).

These birth defects can cause death or lifelong disability, the study authors said.

“We already know that maternal diet before and during early pregnancy plays a significant role in fetal 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 percent,” study leader Tania Desrosiers said in a university news release.

This is concerning because low-carbohydrate diets are fairly popular, she explained. Desrosiers is a research assistant professor of epidemiology in UNC’s School of Global Public Health.

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SOURCE: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, news release, Jan. 25, 2018

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