Low carbohydrate intake linked to low levels of folic acid, increased risk of birth defects

A new study published in the journal Birth Defects Research has found that the carbohydrate intake of pregnant women or those planning to conceive affects the risk of having babies with birth defects. The study authors believe that women who follow a low carbohydrate diet may not have enough dietary intake of folic acid.

The study authors examined the link between carbohydrate intake and birth defects, particularly neural tube defects.
They evaluated data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study from 1,740 mothers of infants, stillbirths, and terminations with anencephaly or spina bifida cases, and 9,545 mothers of live-born infants without a birth defect conceived from 1998 to 2011.
The study authors also estimated the carbohydrate and folic acid intake of the mothers before conception with the use of food frequency survey.
The maternal race/ethnicity, education, alcohol consumption, folic acid supplement intake, study center, and caloric intake were also taken into consideration.
Results showed that the average dietary intake of folic acid among women with restricted carbohydrate intake was less than half that of other women.
It was also shown that women with restricted carbohydrate intake have 30 percent more chance of giving birth to babies with a neural tube defect.
The study authors conclude that low carbohydrate intake is associated with low levels of folic acid may increase the risk of birth defects.

Overall, the findings of the study indicate that women who adhere to a low carbohydrate diet while pregnant or trying to conceive have a 30 percent greater chance of having babies with neural tube birth defects in comparison to other women.

For a full text of the study, go to this link.


Journal Reference:

Desrosiers TA, Siega-Riz AM, Mosley BS, Meyer RE. LOW CARBOHYDRATE DIETS MAY INCREASE RISK OF NEURAL TUBE DEFECTS. Birth Defects Research. 2018. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/bdr2.1198

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