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Pregnant Women on Low-Carb Diets More Likely to Have Babies With Birth Defects, Study Suggests

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If you or anyone you know is pregnant right now, here's an important reminder to be sure to eat enough carbs. A new study has linked low carbohydrate intake in expectant women to an increased risk of birth defects in their babies.

The study, published in the journal <a target="blank" href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bdr2.1198/abstract?systemMessage=Please+be+advised+that+we+experienced+an+unexpected+issue+that+occurred+on+Saturday+and+Sunday+January+20th+and+21st+that+caused+the+site+to+be+down+for+an+extended+period+of+time+and+affected+the+ability+of+users+to+access+content+on+Wiley+Online+Library.+This+issue+has+now+been+fully+resolved.++We+apologize+for+any+inconvenience+this+may+have+caused+and+are+working+to+ensure+that+we+can+alert+you+immediately+of+any+unplanned+periods+of+downtime+or+disruption+in+the+future.">Birth Defects Research, found that pregnant women with low carb intake were 30 percent more likely to have babies with neural tube defects, such as _spina bifida — malformations of the spine and spinal cord — and anencephaly — absence of major portions of the brain and skull — than women who did not restrict their carb intake. The birth defects in question have the potential to lead to lifelong disabilities and even infant death in some cases.

This study, which analyzed 11,285 pregnant women, is the first of its kind to study the relationship between a low carbohydrate intake and the likelihood of having a child with birth defects, and health experts are rightfully concerned. It's especially alarming when you consider that low-carb diets have been trendy for quite some time, and many pregnant women may not be aware of the risks of continuing restrictive eating habits when they have a baby on the way.

"We already know that maternal diet before and during early pregnancy plays a significant role in fetal development. What is new about this study is its suggestion that low carbohydrate intake could increase the risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect by 30 percent. This is concerning because low carbohydrate diets are fairly popular," said lead researcher Tania Desrosiers, PhD. "This finding reinforces the importance for women who may become pregnant to talk to their health care provider about any special diets or eating behaviors they routinely practice."

Be sure to spread the word to any expectant mothers you know!

h/t Eureka Alert

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