The Surprising Secret Truth about What Pregnant Woman Should Eat

Brace yourselves, pregnant women. No, that's not the headline from Huffington Post, Time, Yahoo, WebMD, Fox News or even Natural News, at least not this time. This high drama comes from the University of Newcastle in Australia. Obviously the university pressroom made an error. It obviously should read "Study Reveals The Surprising Truth" or "Study Reveals The Secret."

So what is the surprising, heretofore unknown food pregnant women should eat or not eat. Let me guess.

High carbs
No carbs
No dairy 
Only dairy
Soy diet
Vegan diet
Paleo diet
High fructose diet
No sugar diet
Kale diet 
No fish
No peanuts
Raw food
Cooked food
No gluten

It's killing me. Please do tell! Straight from The University of Newcastle Newsroom:

No universal consensus. 

Glut of nutritional information.

Drat. Not the kind of sensationalism I expected. I had to re-read the news release to make sure I didn't get the wrong impression. I'm still waiting to hear the surprising nutrition info. As it turned out, the only surprise was that there was no surprise, no secret super pregnancy diet anyhow. After Australian researchers reviewed more than 30 years of research on maternal diet and its effect on pregnancy, neonatal and infant outcomes - this is the only thing they could come up with to tell pregnant woman:
We found there was a positive effect on birth weight and a reduced incidence of low birth weight using whole foods and fortified foods as dietary interventions. Fortified foods included foods and drinks with higher levels of nutrients. Ellie Gresham, Dietitian and PhD candidate 
Fortified food. Whole food (not processed?). 

A paltry finding in a study that overall found maternal diet didn't really matter. In typical brain dead coverage, none of this prevented the following conclusions:

"Nutrition plays a fundamental role in fetal growth and birth outcomes." The summary of the study at The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

"Work to improve children's health should start before mother becomes pregnant." Headline,  Science Daily

The mainstream media didn't pick this one up. For once. I have to wonder if it's because the researchers didn't really find much to recommend. If it had found, say two or three more foods of interest, would the media bothered with it? Maybe. 

So here's an example of a large meta-analytic study that basically found it doesn't really matter what pregnant women eat. 

Are there other review studies that found different results. Probably. But apparently this is the largest of its kind. It might not be the best but still, it didn't make a splash in the media probably because it didn't have sensational results. Or the kind of results that persuade pregnant women to eat better. Or that health officials can use to scold women.

And thud. That's the sound of it hitting the newsroom floor in Australia before it gets swept up and put it in the trash bin. 

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