(HealthDay News) — Following a “prudent” or “traditional” diet is associated with a reduced risk of preterm delivery, according to a study published online March 4 in BMJ.

Linda Englund-Ögge, MD, from Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study involving 66,000 pregnant women to investigate the correlation between maternal dietary patterns and the risk of preterm delivery. Participants answered food frequency questionnaires, and the risk of preterm delivery was examined in relation to adherence to one of three distinct dietary patterns: “prudent” (including vegetables, fruits, water as beverage, whole grains); “Western” (salty and sweet snacks, white bread, desserts, processed meat products); and “traditional” (potatoes, fish).

The researchers found that high scores on the “prudent” dietary pattern correlated with a significantly reduced risk of preterm delivery (hazard ratio for highest versus lowest tertile, 0.88), after adjustment for covariates. Correlations were also seen for the “prudent” pattern and a significantly lower risk of late and spontaneous preterm delivery. The “Western” dietary pattern was not independently associated with preterm delivery. The risk of preterm delivery was reduced in association with the highest versus the lowest tertile of the “traditional” dietary pattern (hazard ratio, 0.91).

“Although these findings cannot establish causality, they support dietary advice to pregnant women to eat a balanced diet, including vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and fish, and to drink water,” the authors write.

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