Pregnancy is the most crucial time to put aside all vices and focus on a nutritious diet. Pregnant women should still follow the choose My Plate method or the Harvard Healthy Eating plate to ensure adequate amounts of macronutrients and micronutrients. Taking prenatal vitamins can prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies for omnivores and vegetarians alike. Vegan mothers can also take prenatal vitamins and follow the Healthy Eating Plate using a balanced diet with soy protein and beans instead of meat. In this case, the dairy part is substituted with soy milk or a calcium-rich and protein-rich food. Avoiding calorie dense choices like candy, soda, and fried foods is helpful for improving quality of diet. But some habits can have grave deleterious effects on a pregnancy.
Caffeine may increase the risk of low birth weight.1 Consuming above 150mg of caffeine increases the risk of spontaneous abortion during pregnancy. Consuming above 200mg/day is associated with miscarriage.2 Caffeine consumption is also associated with insulin resistance.3 Insulin resistance is a precursor for gestational diabetes and diabetes type 2.
Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can result in fetal alcohol syndrome, which is the leading cause of mental retardation in the US.4 Common symptoms of this disease are stunted growth, neurocognitive disorders, and facial dysmorphism.
- Diego Miguel, Field Tiffany, Hernandez-Reif Maria, Vera Yanexy, Gil Karla, Gonzalez-Garcia Adolfo. Caffeine Use Affects Pregnancy Outcome. Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse; 2007, Vol. 17 Issue 2, p41-49, 9p, 3 Charts.
- Xiaoping Weng, Roxana Odouli, De-Kun Li. Maternal caffeine consumption during pregnancy and the risk of miscarriage: a prospective cohort study. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Vol 198, Issue 3, March 2008, Pg 279. e1-279. e8
- Laughon Katherine, Powers Robert, Roberts James, Parana Sarah, Catov Janet. Caffeine and Insulin Resistance in Pregnancy. American Journal of Perinatology, Vol 28, Issue 7 (2011), p 571-578.
- Seror, E.; Chapelon, E.; Bue, M.; Garnier-Lengline, H.; Lebeaux-Legras, C.; Loudenot, A.; Lejeune, C. Alcohol and Pregnancy. Archives de pediatrie, Volume 16, issue 10 (October, 2009), p. 1364-1373