Women who do not eat fish during pregnancy are more likely to experience high levels of anxiety at that time, researchers have revealed.
They have found a link between the types of diet eaten, particularly whether this includes fish, and anxiety in pregnancy. The researchers suggest that eating fish during pregnancy could help reduce stress levels.
Most women experience some stress during pregnancy but excessive anxiety is not good for the mother's long-term health and can result in their baby being born prematurely and/or having a low birth weight. Researchers from Children of the 90s at the University of Bristol and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, looked at the fish intake of more than 9,500 pregnant women
They categorised women's diets by the frequency with which different types of foods were eaten and identified five dietary patterns. They are roughly described as: health-conscious, traditional, processed, confectionery and vegetarian. The researchers found that women who never ate seafood had a 53 per cent greater likelihood of having high levels of anxiety at 32 weeks of pregnancy when compared with women who ate seafood regularly.
The results suggest that two meals of white fish and one meal of oily fish each week would be an adequate amount of fish to consume. This was the case after taking into account 14 different factors that could affect anxiety, including drinking, smoking and family adversity during pregnancy.
When the researchers investigated the dietary patterns, women in the top third of the vegetarian type of diet pattern were 25 per cent more likely to experience anxiety than women in the bottom third. There was also evidence that women in the top third of the health-conscious dietary pattern were 23 per cent less likely to have high levels of anxiety when compared with women in the bottom third. Women in the top third of the traditional diet pattern were 16 per cent less likely to have high levels of anxiety when compared with women in the bottom third.
These findings, the researchers suggest, may be due to the lack of fish and meat in a vegetarian type of diet and because a pregnant woman's nutritional requirements increase during pregnancy, due to the demands of the growing foetus, which gets all its nutrients from the mother. Dr Juliana Vaz, the report's senior author, said: "An important message from this research is that in order to have a healthy pregnancy, women need to follow a healthy diet and not something special for pregnancy.
"It means a diet containing whole cereals, vegetables, salad, fruit, dairy foods, meat, poultry, pulses and including fish - three portions per week with at least one of oily fish, such as salmon, sardine or tuna. "Sweets and fast foods should be kept to a minimum because they are low in nutrients."
Article: 13th July 2013 www.news.ninemsn.com.au