An Australian study from the University of Sydney (UoS), Charles Perkins Centre, Deakin University, Monash University, James Cook University and the Australian National University announced the results of a joint study revealing that eating a high fiber diet during pregnancy could dramatically reduce the risk of preeclampsia, a serious illness which can lead to allergies and autoimmune disease in babies later in life.
Xinhua reported on the study which brought together an impressive array of Australian investigators into a methodical, efficient collaborative research effort. The recent research was published in Nature Communications.
Presently it is known that preeclampsia occurs in up to 10% of pregnancies and symptoms include high blood pressure, protein in the uterine and severe swelling in the mother often leading to preterm deliveries.
The condition occurs only during pregnancy. Some symptoms can include high blood pressure and protein in the urine, usually occurring after the 20th week of pregnancy. It is often precluded by gestational hypertension. Preeclampsia affects at least 5-8% of pregnancies.
The Research Team
The team included the following:
- University of Sydney (UoS) Charles Perkins Centre
- Deakin University, the Barwon Infant Study (the research team includes Child Health Research Unit at Barwon Health in collaboration with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Deakin University)
- Monash University
- James Cook University
- Australian National University
As quoted from Professor Nanan from the University of Sydney School of Medicine and Charles Perkins Centre: “The mother’s gut bacteria and diet appear to be crucial to promoting a healthy pregnancy.” The Australian team found that preeclampsia can impact an important fetal immune organ, the thymus, which is adjacent to and behind the breastbone. Moreover, fetuses in preeclamptic pregnancies exhibited a smaller thymus than children from healthy pregnancies. Of interest, infants post preeclampsia exhibit lower production of T cells (thymus-derived cells)—hence these babies later may be at a disadvantage to fend off allergies and autoimmune disease conditions.
The study leads the investigative team to consider the promotion of specific metabolic products of gut bacteria during pregnancy could be considered as part of care during pregnancy to reduce the probability of allergies and autoimmune conditions later in the baby’s life. TrialSite News notes that a nutritious, well-balanced, fiber-rich diet is the preferred way to go in both situations.
Correlating Modern Processed Foods and Raid Rise of Autoimmune Conditions
Could it be that these researchers have uncovered at least possible one of the answers as to the explosion in allergies and autoimmune conditions around developed societies? Could it be that highly processed Western diets, low in fiber, spur or trigger conditions during pregnancy such as preeclampsia? Clearly, we can’t know for sure yet—more research is needed but common sense dictates that during pregnancy a healthy, high fiber diet is desirous.
Ralph Nanan, University of Sydney