Nutrition and Diseases While Pregnant

There’s nothing more terrifying than facing the prospect of a high-risk pregnancy. You face months of uncertainty and have a difficult time enjoying what should be one of the happiest times of your life.

Most women will be able to avoid the rarer diseases like spina bifida—but for some, rare pregnancy diseases are a grim reality. There are things you can do to lower your risk of developing these diseases with the proper nutrition and staying current with all of your doctor’s appointments.

In truth, every single woman will have a different type of nutritional profile that she’ll need to adhere to while pregnant. This can be determined by your initial weight, health issues, or the way that your body reacts to certain foods. Ultimately, what you eat will need to be determined and overseen by your OB/GYN.

Most people can continue to eat however they want while they’re pregnant, with some minor changes to the types of medications or supplements they can take. Speak to your doctor and get a complete family history to better understand what your risk factors are and what you can do to prevent them to the best of your ability.

Spina Bifida and Nutrition

Children born to vitamin-deficient and significantly overweightmothers have a higher risk of spina bifida and other spinal deformities. This can lead to long-term paralysis and issues with pain, mobility, and cognitive development for the baby. Likewise, people with diabetes also seem to be at a higher risk, but it should be noted that doctors aren’t fully sure of what causes spina bifida.

Nevertheless, it’s recommended that eating a well-balanced diet that focuses on non-processed foods and avoiding excessive sugar. This can help to reduce this risk and control blood sugar and weight throughout gestation. Leafy greens, fruits, and other foods high in folic acid and vitamin B are recommended. Supplements can also be substituted as long as you consult with your doctor.

Foods to Avoid

Your body is going to go through some pretty major changes, which includes the types of tastes that you have. Things that used to be really delicious may end up sending you straight to the trash can.

While it’s true that certain foods can turn your morning sickness into all-day sickness, there are foods that are actually dangerous to eat while you’re pregnant.

If you like your meat very rare, then you may be out of luck; all of your red meat and poultry need to be cooked completely through. This means that it needs to reach a well-done temperature throughout. Poorly cooked meat can be a breeding ground for bacteria or contain a plethora of different food poisonings that can affect both you and the baby.

Unfortunately, the same concept carries over into sushi and seafood.Bacterial growth can delay brain and bone development, leading to a score of disorders that can impact your child for life, such as Listeriosis, which, although rare, can infect the placentaand cause premature birth.

Raw eggs and some smoothie recipes will also need to be avoided as they are prone to serious foodborne illnesses such as salmonella.

Salmonella is a common disease to contract when eating undercooked eggs, and it can cause fevers, vomiting, and dehydration. If severe enough, the symptoms can cause a preterm labor or even a miscarriage. Always make sure that any food that contains eggs are fully cooked or pasteurized.

When in doubt, double check your recipes or food choices with your OB/GYN so as to avoid any potential diseases while pregnant.

Supplements: Good or Bad?

This can be a tricky topic. Many of these products aren’t necessarily safe to take during the pregnancy. Don’t take any type of supplements, herbs, or dietary shakes until you’ve talked to your doctor about the ingredients and what they could mean for you and your child.

If a person is selling these things personally, then there’s a good chance that they don’t have the appropriate training to know whether or not the ingredients will have an impact on your unborn child.

Even if you are taking something for your health, you need to be aware of how much you’re using. There are times when too much of a good thing can contribute to mitochondrial diseases and other impaired developmental disorders in developing babies. When it comes to your baby, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Other Rare Diseases

There are a number of serious complications and diseases that can be caused by poor pregnancy nutrition, including:

  • Mitochondrial Dysfunction Disorders– These impact energy levels and can lead to diabetes, epilepsy and other disorders. Doctors recommend adding coenzyme Q10 and folic acid to keep the mitochondria stimulated throughout the pregnancy. Foods that contain this include pistachios, beef (cooked through), and olive and corn oil.
  • Cretinism– This is a disorder of the thyroid that can regulate physical growth and other areas of the body. An underdeveloped thyroid or a lack of iodine can result in these problems during pregnancy. Speak to your doctor about foods and supplements that you can take safely to ensure proper iodine intake.
  • Neural Tube Defects– This group of disorders involves a lack of folic acid throughout the pregnancy and may point to malnutrition. It leaves a portion of the spinal cord open and can lead to a plethora of different symptoms—including death; the two most common neural tube defects are spina bifida and anencephaly. Leafy green vegetables, fruits, and enriched grains all contain folic acid, so make sure you incorporate these into your diet.

While many of these have contributing genetic or environmental factors, what you eat genuinely matters. Having poor nutrition while pregnant not only affects you, but your unborn child, exposing you to many different, and often rare diseases. Always speak to your doctor and don’t be afraid to undergo additional testing to remain as proactive as possible.