Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Conception and delivery are considered normal human activity but those undergoing the experience have anxiety regarding the health of the would be mother and the yet to be born child. Type of foods that need to be taken or those to be avoided can be very confusing with Allopathic practitioners mostly going by western recommendations while traditional system has its own way of dealing with them.

A pregnant woman's daily diet and the nutrition provided by it will have critical impact on the course of the pregnancy and normal fetal development of her unborn baby. The physiological and metabolic changes that take place during the period demand increased intake of food with some special requirements. This is to ensure satisfactory development of the fetus as well as growth, health and functioning of uterus, placenta and amniotic fluid. Additional energy to the extent of 150-250 kC, proteins 10 gm per day and increased intake of calcium,Iron and Folic acid are needed for the purpose. Good hygiene will ensure avoiding food poisoning, GI infection, toxoplasmosis, listeriosis etc. Avoiding alcohol, caffeine and tobacco cuts down risks of fetal distress and other problems.

Neural tube defect (NTD) is one of the risks associated with pregnancy where the neural tube fails to close in the embryo on the 28th day of fertilization and such an anomaly occurs in 2.6 per 1000 births. Consumption of epilepsy drugs and others like methotrexate, conditions like obesity, maternal diabetes, mycotoxin poisoning, arsenic, hyperthermia etc also cause NTD. Folic acid deficiency which leads to hyper-homocysteinamia can also contribute to NTD. Recent findings that choline present in egg can prevent development of NTD and recommendations for consuming an egg every day by pregnant women have given new hope for averting this disorder which can occur even before pregnancy is confirmed by tests.

Egg is a rich source of choline but modern wisdom precluded its regular consumption because of the high cholesterol and saturated fat contained in it. On an average a chicken egg can contain as much as 200 mg of cholesterol but it is much less than that present in Duck egg (621 mg) or Goose egg (1266 mg). Increasing evidence about the nutrition of egg has brought out that egg consumption does not increase serum cholesterol levels in humans and on the contrary it increases the desirable HDL cholesterol levels to some extent. Egg, a villain till the other day, has become a protective food, at least for pregnant women for preempting development of the dreaded NTD syndrome in children during pregnancy. An egg a day keeps NTD away!


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