High-fat diet during pregnancy ups risk of stillbirth

A new study suggests eating a high-fat diet during pregnancy boosts the chance of stillbirth.

Washington: A new study has indicated that eating a high-fat diet during pregnancy boosts the chance of stillbirth.
It showed eating such a diet decreases blood flow from the mother to the placenta.

“This study demonstrates that maternal diet during pregnancy has a profound influence on both placental and fetal development. The high-calorie, high-fat diet common in our society has negative effects on placental function and may be a significant contributor to adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as stillbirth," said Antonio Frias, principal investigator and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology (perinatology/maternal-fetal medicine) in the Oregon Health and Science University School of Medicine.

Previous studies have shown that nearly all adverse outcomes during pregnancy - abnormal fetal growth, preeclampsia, preterm labor and stillbirth - are in some way associated with an abnormally developed, or damaged, placenta, the temporary organ that nourishes the unborn fetus.

In addition, maternal obesity has been associated with placental inflammation and dysfunction and an increased risk of stillbirth.

Considering these findings, the researchers hypothesized that eating a diet high in fat during pregnancy also may increase the risk of placental inflammation and the risk of stillbirth.

Frias and colleagues observed 24 pregnant Japanese macaques that ate either a diet comprising 32 percent calories from fat or a control diet with 14 percent fat calories for at least four years.

They found the monkeys that ate a high-fat diet experienced a significant decrease in blood flow from the uterus to the placenta, a reduction of 38 percent to 56 percent, and a rise in placental inflammation.

The risk of stillbirth was further compounded, however, when the monkeys were obese with hyper-insulinemia, or pre-diabetes.

The findings are published in the June edition of the journal Endocrinology.


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