Gluten Free, Low-carb Diets Could Pose Health Risks

Low-carbohydrate and gluten free diets may be linked to severe birth defects, according to a new study.

A study published in the peer-reviewed journal Birth Defects Research is the first to directly examine the relationship between carbohydrate ingestion that was low and having children with a potentially fatal neural tube defectwriter Tania Desrosiers said.  

Researchers examined data from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study from   1,740 mothers of babies, stillbirths, and terminations using anencephaly (missing portions of  skull and brain) or spina bifida (a spinal cord defect), and 9,545 mothers of live born babies with no birth defect  guessed between 1998 and 2011. They found women with reduced carbohydrate intake are 30% more likely to have babies with neural tube defects as opposed.

Women in that category were more likely to be older and have a family income that is higher.    

Intake was defined as the 10% of the category, roughing lining up with limitations imposed by low-carb and fermented diets. What’s important to note is women who choose to eat carbohydrates that are less might also be opting to eat folic acid. (The U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated in 1998 that all cereals and grains must be fortified with folic acid)

At the moment, researchers can’t supply a specific daily intake that is most healthy for women that are pregnant, but believe this study is a start to knowing more about the health of an unborn baby.  

The only finding is maternal diet plays an very important role in development, Desrosiers said.  

“I don’t need women to panic when they see this,” Desrosiers said. “For the scientific community, we need to look into this deeper. For people, women should have a talk with their doctor about particular dietary practices.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sponsored the Analysis.