Preterm birth occurs when a baby is born before the 37 weeks of pregnancy. Until today, its cause is unknown. However, there are various factors that are believed to increase the risk of preterm labour. These include diet and lifestyle. In a new study, scientists discovered a link between preterm birth and consumption of sweetened soft drinks.
Researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Sahlgrenska Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden analysed the data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study to find the possible causes of preterm birth. It involved more than 100,000 pregnant women. The participants were given questionnaires to assess their lifestyle and diet preferences. Biological samples were also taken. Although there were no strong factors that explain why premature birth occurs, the researchers found that the body mass index and diet have an impact on it. In a similar study, it was reported that women who consumed more than a daily serving of artificially-sweetened soft drinks had a slight increase in the risk of preterm birth.
The researchers also considered many other factors affecting women’s health such as cigarette smoking and high body mass index (BMI). They stressed that more clinical trials are necessary to establish the link but generally, women should avoid regular intake of soft drinks.
8% of babies in UK are born too soon
Premature birth has been a subject of numerous studies. In the latest report from BBC, it was revealed that there are nearly 60,000 premature births every year in the UK. This is a major health concern because preterm birth has been linked to infant deaths, long-term disabilities, and other illnesses. According to Dr Joy Lawn, co-editor of the report and Director for Save the Children, preterm birth is the leading cause of death next to pneumonia among children five years and below. Many premature babies who survived tend to develop learning disabilities as well as visual and hearing problems.
Although there has been no cause-and-effect relationship identified between the intake of sweetened soft drinks and preterm birth, women planning to have a baby or those who are pregnant should be more careful about these products, taking into consideration the fact that soft drinks are unhealthy. Furthermore, they should observe proper diet to manage pregnancy weight gain (which is also linked to preterm birth) and engage in physical activities. Seeing their GPs for regular checkups is also necessary to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Sources of this article:
More than one in 10 babies worldwide born prematurely, BBC News
Sweetened soft drinks linked to preterm birth, Norwegian Institute of Public Health