SEATTLE, July 21, 2008 -- Researchers with Swedish's Center for Perinatal Studies had the results of a recent study published last week in the American Journal of Hypertension which showed that eating more fiber during the first trimester of pregnancy seems to reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia, a potentially fatal condition characterized by elevated blood pressure.
According to the Preeclampsia Foundation, some 5 percent to 8 percent of women experience the dangerous condition during pregnancy. The only way to end preeclampsia is to deliver the baby.
Risk factors for the condition include obesity, a family history of type 2 diabetes and/or hypertension, depression, anxiety, diets low in fruits and vegetables, and low levels of physical activity.
For this study, more than 1,500 pregnant women in Washington state filled out a 121-item questionnaire listing the types of food they ate, both before they conceived and during the early weeks of their pregnancy.
Women who consumed 21.2 grams a day or more of fiber were 72 percent less likely to develop preeclampsia compared with women who ate less than 11.9 grams a day, the researchers found.
The authors, from Swedish and the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine in Seattle, noted that adding an extra 5 grams of fiber a day was associated with a 14 percent reduction in the risk of developing preeclampsia. Consuming two slices of whole-grain bread daily would be the equivalent to adding 5 grams of fiber a day, they said.
- To read a related article posted on the U.S. News & World Report Web site, click here.