`Med Diet Might Reduce Prenatal Stressors and Improve Child Health Outcomes - Olive Oil Times

Med Diet Might Reduce Prenatal Stressors and Improve Child Health Outcomes

By Paolo DeAndreis
Dec. 14, 2022 15:16 UTC

Newly pub­lished research in Current Developments in Nutrition con­firmed that sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits might derive from adher­ing to the Mediterranean Diet dur­ing preg­nancy. It also found how such a choice might improve health out­comes in young chil­dren of dif­fer­ent eth­nic­i­ties.

According to the study, shift­ing to the Mediterranean Diet when preg­nant may lower the like­li­hood of the mother devel­op­ing a depres­sive mood dis­or­der or pre-preg­nancy obe­sity. Furthermore, the Mediterranean Diet might also cur­tail obe­sity in chil­dren.

The goal of the project was to inves­ti­gate how the Mediterranean Diet might impact psy­choso­cial and phys­i­o­logic stres­sors asso­ci­ated with preg­nancy. These often cause inflam­ma­tory con­di­tions that could cre­ate future health prob­lems for both mother and child.

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The paper’s authors used a sam­ple of the U.S. pop­u­la­tion to inves­ti­gate the reported health ben­e­fits of the Mediterranean Diet in both Mediterranean and non-Mediterranean coun­tries.

In par­tic­u­lar, a Mediterranean-style dietary pat­tern has been asso­ci­ated with a num­ber of pos­i­tive health out­comes, includ­ing lower lev­els of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, can­cer, and inflam­ma­tion and greater longevity,” they wrote.

Researchers explained that approx­i­mately one in ten women of repro­duc­tive age suf­fers from depres­sion, with 29 per­cent of child­bear­ing women being obese. These con­di­tions have been cor­re­lated with child­hood obe­sity, child neu­rode­vel­op­men­tal issues and chronic dis­ease for both mother and child later in life.

The study involved 929 mother-child dyads from the Newborn Epigenetic Study (NEST), a prospec­tive cohort study. Epigenetics inves­ti­gates the inter­ac­tion of gene expres­sions with a per­son’s envi­ron­ment and behav­ior. NEST par­tic­i­pants were pre­sented with food fre­quency ques­tion­naires to assess their dietary habits and the cor­re­la­tion between those habits and health out­comes.

The researchers noted that other stud­ies based on NEST have shown that mater­nal dietary habits affect off­spring behav­ior for up to 24 months after birth and sug­gest a link with epi­ge­netic mech­a­nisms.

We aimed to eval­u­ate the rela­tions between mater­nal Mediterranean diet adher­ence (MDA) and mater­nal and off­spring out­comes dur­ing the first decade of life in African Americans, Hispanics, and Whites,” the sci­en­tists wrote.

Because racial/ethnic dis­par­i­ties exist in the out­comes of inter­est, we assessed asso­ci­a­tions with diet by race,” they added, hint­ing at the many threads of inves­ti­ga­tion. The researchers exam­ined inci­dences of depres­sion, pre-preg­nancy obe­sity, and ges­ta­tional weight gain in the moth­ers. Weight at birth and weight gain in young child­hood was the data gath­ered from the chil­dren.

Of the 929 dyads, the 341 Black/African American and 225 Hispanic women were on aver­age younger than the 317 White par­tic­i­pants. The Black/African American and Hispanic women were also more likely to be obese before preg­nancy.

The preva­lence of depres­sive symp­toms was 26 per­cent over­all, and Black/African American women also reported a higher level of depres­sive symp­toms than White and Hispanic women,” the researchers noted in their results.

Approximately 49 per­cent of the sam­ple gained more weight than rec­om­mended dur­ing preg­nancy.

Still, researchers found that adher­ing to a Mediterranean Diet was asso­ci­ated with a lower risk of pre-preg­nancy obe­sity, even if it did not appear to impact ges­ta­tional weight gain. Among the dif­fer­ent eth­nic­i­ties, Hispanic women enjoyed the most pro­tec­tive effect of the Mediterranean Diet against depres­sion. For all women, bet­ter adher­ence to the Mediterranean Diet trans­lated into improved results.

The study’s authors noted that their results showed pos­i­tive asso­ci­a­tions between adher­ing to the Mediterranean Diet from con­cep­tion and lower pre-preg­nancy weight, lower depres­sion and improved weight-to-height out­comes in chil­dren between three and eight years of age. However, such effects vary con­sid­er­ably among the eth­nic­i­ties involved.

These data sup­port European clin­i­cal tri­als data sug­gest­ing that Mediterranean-style diet is per­haps a potent avenue for pre­vent­ing adverse mater­nal and off­spring pre­na­tal and early post­na­tal out­comes, includ­ing pre­na­tal depres­sive mood and child­hood obe­sity, which dis­pro­por­tion­ately affect Blacks/African Americans. In our study, MDA dif­fered starkly by race/ethnicity, with non-Hispanic White moth­ers report­ing the high­est MDA and non-Hispanic Black moth­ers report­ing the low­est MDA. The stark dif­fer­ences in MDA by race/ethnicity show­case the need for inter­ven­tions to sup­port healthy eat­ing among pop­u­la­tions of color in the United States,” the researchers wrote.

In their con­clu­sion, the sci­en­tists wrote how adher­ing to a Mediterranean Diet from the ear­li­est stages of preg­nancy appears to con­vey psy­choso­cial and phys­i­o­logic health ben­e­fits to moth­ers and their unborn chil­dren, although racial/ethnic dis­par­i­ties exist in dietary intake. The racial/ethnic dis­par­i­ties seen in diet pat­tern are rooted in inequities related to the social deter­mi­nants of health.” They also called for more exten­sive stud­ies cov­er­ing wider, more het­ero­ge­neous sam­ples of the pop­u­la­tion.

Given the many ben­e­fits of adher­ence to a Mediterranean-style dietary pat­tern, inter­ven­tions address­ing these issues, in addi­tion to stud­ies of mech­a­nism and racial/ethnic dif­fer­ences in out­comes, are needed,” they con­cluded.


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