BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has published a study linking fruit and vegetable consumption to the prevention of undernourished fetuses. The medical name for an undernourished fetus is SGA (small for gestational age).

The SCOPE program is at the heart of this significant pregnancy diet news. SCOPE, or Screening for Pregnancy Endpoints, researches pregnancy in hopes of finding early detection tests or screening tools for pre-eclampsia, SGA and unplanned preterm deliveries.

Two groups of women were included in the SGA study. The first group was made up of women who maintained normal blood pressure during pregnancy. The remaining women showed a marked increase in blood pressure late in pregnancy.

The study, which lasted from 2004 to 2008, included more than 3,500 women pregnant with singlets. Interviews were held at 15 weeks and ultrasounds at 20 weeks. During the ultrasound, fetal weight and size was noted.

Reducing Chance of Small for Gestational Age Birth

  • Women who consumed a healthy diet rich in leafy vegetables before pregnancy were 50% less likely to have an SGA infant.
  • Women with high intake of oily fish decreased risk by 60%.
  • Eating green, leafy vegetables three months before giving birth reduced risk of having a smaller baby by 50%.

Increasing Chance of Small for Gestational Age Birth

  • Women consuming small amounts of fruit increased risk of having an SGA infant by 50%.
  • Smoking during pregnancy increased risk 30 to 60% for every 5 cigarettes smoked.

According to Philip Steer, BJOG editor-in-chief, “The take-home message is: Fewer take-out meals, more fresh fruit and vegetables."

Source: McCowan L, Roberts C, Dekker G, Taylor R, Chan E, Kenny L, Baker P, Moss-Morris R, Chappell L, North R. BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 6 October, 2010.