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Belfast - Eating chips during pregnancy can lead to significant health problems for newborn babies, research suggests.
Consuming a vast quantity of chips, crisps and biscuits during pregnancy can lead to babies having a lower than average birth weight, the study found.
Mothers-to-be who have a high intake of acrylamide – which is found in commonly consumed foods and coffee – are also more likely to have a baby that has a smaller head circumference.
The size of a child’s head has been associated with delayed neuro-development while lower birth weights have been associated with adverse health effects in early life and as children grow up.
Babies born to mothers with a high dietary intake of acrylamide were found to be up to 132g lighter than babies born to mothers who had a low intake, researchers said.
The effect caused by acrylamide was comparable to lower birth weights caused by maternal smoking, they said.
The infant’s heads were also up to 0.33cm smaller, they found.
Acrylamide is a chemical that is produced naturally in food as a result of cooking starch-rich food at high temperatures, such as when baking or frying. It has been found in a wide range of home-cooked and processed foods including crisps, chips, bread and coffee.
“The potential public-health implications of our findings are substantial,” the authors said.
“Increases in head circumference are an important indication of continued brain growth, and reduced birth head circumference has been associated with delayed neuro-development.
“Reduced birth weight is a risk factor for numerous adverse health effects early in life, and has been associated with multiple adverse outcomes later in life such as reduced stature, increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and osteoporosis.”
They added: “These findings provide evidence supporting the need for changes in food production and for providing clear public health advice to pregnant women to reduce their dietary intake of foods that may contain high concentrations of acrylamide.”
Researchers examined the diets of 1 100 pregnant women between 2006 and 2010 in Denmark, England, Greece, Norway and Spain.
The study was led by the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona.
Professor John Wright from the Bradford Institute for Health Research, added: “The effect of acrylamide is comparable with the well-known adverse effect of smoking on birth weight. Our advice for pregnant mothers is to follow a balanced diet and go easy on the crisps and chips.” – Belfast Telegraph