How to have a Healthy Baby

How to have a Healthy BabyAs per Sheila Zhou – Usana’s health product expert – Women of today are having children later due to careers, social and economical factors. The median age of a first-time mother is now 31, and the first-time father now 33, compared to 27 and 30 respectively in 1985 (ABS 2006).

The ability to conceive naturally declines with age.  In fact, age-related infertility is the most common reason why women visit fertility clinics. In women aged 35 yrs and over, there is also a higher rate of miscarriage, prematurity, feotal abnormality, perinatal morbidity, and an increased risk of having a child with Autism or Down syndrome.

In comparison to other species, human reproduction is a less efficient process. Current statistics indicate that one in six couples is infertile (which is defined as failure to conceive after one year). For many women having a healthy baby or two marks their path in life – having a family has been important to women for centuries. Proper periconception care and careful planning are critical for conceiving a healthy baby.

Nutrition plays a pivotal role in fertility, conception, and foetal development. It has been found that 59% of men and 62% of women who visited a fertility clinic are deficient in micronutrients such as folic acid iodine, and vitamin D, and/or have raised homocysteine levels. Lifestyle changes combined with nutritional supplementation significantly increased the rate of natural conception and reduced the rate of miscarriage.

Optimising nutrition prior to, and throughout pregnancy can increase the chance of a healthy pregnancy and help prevent adverse pregnancy outcomes. This can be done with looking after your health:

Folic Acid Supplementation

70% of neural tube defects can be prevented by increasing the intake of folate (500-600mcg daily) for at least one month preceding conception and the first three months of pregnancy

Iodine Supplementation

Iodine deficiency during both pregnancy and breastfeeding can negatively affect the brain and nervous system of unborn infants, in particular reduced IQ, The National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines recommend that all women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or considering pregnancy take an iodine supplement of 150mcg daily

Iron

Iron deficiency represents the most common nutritional deficit with or without anaemia, and has been linked to altered behavioural and neural development. Daily iron supplementation can reduce the incidence of low birth weight and preterm birth as well as the occurrence of nausea, stomach pain and vomiting in soon-to-b-mothers. Women who are iron deficient should talk to their doctors about taking an iron supplement to meet the RDI of 27mg.

Essential Fatty Acids

Ensure adequate dietary intake of omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids at the onset of, or before pregnancy, from both low-mercury seafood and supplements. Fish oil suppements containing Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Ducosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have been shown to reduce risks for early preterm birth, poor neurocognitive outcomes in infants and postnatal depression.

Vitamin D

Low vitamin D levels have been found to impair fertility. Maintaining optimal serum vitamin D levels during pregnancy is important for the health of the mother and future baby across a range of possible health outcomes.

Source: Healthy Essentials issue 5, 2011

Food for thought -  Good fats

Expert tips for pregnancy

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