Researchers investigated the association between maternal diet quality and preterm birth risk, offspring birth size, and adiposity in the multi-ethnic birth cohort by assessing the dietary intakes of 1,051 expectant mothers during the 26th to 28th week of gestation.
Methods, measurements, maternal implications
Using 24-hour recalls and three-day food diaries, they determined diet quality via the Healthy Eating Index for pregnant women in Singapore (HEI-SGP) on a scale of 0 to 100. They also established gestational age through a first-trimester ultrasound dating scan, and measured neonatal length and weight at birth.
They then assessed body composition using air displacement plethysmography in 313 of the infants within 72 hours of birth, and assessed the abdominal adiposity of 316 infants via MRI within the first two weeks of life.
Subsequently, the researchers noted that the mean maternal HEI-SGP score was 52.1, and stated that maternal diet quality during pregnancy was not related to preterm birth or birth weight.
Following the HEI-SGP was linked to longer birth length, lower BMI at birth, lower percentage of body fat, and lower fat mass.
A weighty issue
The researchers noted that the 24-hour recall method of obtaining maternal dietary intake might not have accurately depicted individual dietary intake, which differs from one day to the next.
However, they added that the method was "moderately valid" and had been found in earlier studies to have "good reproducibility".
They also said that since maternal diet was assessed only during weeks 26 to 28 of gestation, it may not have been representative of the diets the subjects had over the entire course of their pregnancies.
Still, they added that previous research had shown that dietary patterns and intakes tended to stay more or less the same during pregnancy.
They concluded: "We observed that maternal diet quality, as assessed by the HEI-SGP, was associated with longer birth length and lower neonatal adiposity in a multi-ethnic Asian cohort.
"However, maternal diet quality during pregnancy was not associated with birth weight or preterm birth. These findings warrant further investigation in independent studies."
Source: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
"Adherence to a healthy eating index for pregnant women is associated with lower neonatal adiposity in a multiethnic Asian cohort: the Growing Up in Singapore Towards healthy Outcomes (GUSTO) Study"
Authors: Ai-Ru Chia, et al.