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Saturday, 27 January 2018

New study: Can a keto diet result in birth defects?

"Can a keto low-carb diet result in birth defects? Well, that’s what you may think, reading this article from the Daily Mail 25/01/18, based on a new observational study:

Daily Mail: Low carb diets like Atkins, Paleo or Keto linked to risk of birth defects including spina bifida, study claims

The argument is that lower carb diets can lead to a lower intake of folic acid, if people eat less bread. White bread normally has close to zero vitamins and minerals, which is why it’s fortified with some added vitamins, like folic acid.

A new observational study found that pregnant women who reported eating few carbs also ate less folic acid (likely for this reason) and their babies had a borderline significant 30% increase in the risk of some birth defects, like spina bifada, that may be caused by a lack of folic acid:

Birth Defects Research: Low carbohydrate diets may increase risk of neural tube defects


There are plenty of weaknesses with the study, primarily that it’s observational, meaning it’s just based on statistical correlations (weak ones, in this case). This means the study simply can’t prove whether the defects were caused by folic acid deficiency, or the diet of the mothers, or something else.

The mothers who reported a lower carb intake were also older, more obese, smoked more and drank more alcohol, all things that may be connected to an increased risk of birth defects, so it’s perhaps not a fair comparison.

However, even if the study is hardly the final word on the topic, it can still be a good idea to make sure to eat enough folic acid if you may be about to become pregnant. Just to be safe.
How to eat plenty of folate on low carb and keto

Fortunately, it’s not necessary to eat flour (clearly not great for anyone’s health) with artificially added vitamins just to get enough folic acid. You could also just eat vitamins as a supplement, negating the need to eat flour+vitamins. Or, you could eat real low-carb foods.

Some of the most folic acid-rich foods in the world happen to be low in carbs, including vegetables (particularly dark green leafy vegetables). Avocado, spinach, liver, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts are among the foods with the highest levels of folic acid, and it’s also found in dairy products, poultry and meat, eggs and seafood.

Sounds like a low-carb diet to me."

All words and picture above from Diet Doctor site here

All the best Jan


Christine said...

can't go wrong with leafy green vegetables!

Anonymous said...

Like all of these, dark green leafy vegetables, avocado, spinach, liver, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts.
Family also eat dairy products, and poultry and meat, and eggs and seafood.

Greetings from Zandra

Carol Blackburn said...

there is always a solution to every problem, when I was pregnant they made me take folic acid no matter what, no problem.........they are part of pre-natal vitamins

Passthecream said...

Yes, a diet full of good quality ingredients with balance is the key no matter what quantities or types.

This really is a bit more scaremongering from the dietician crowd of evil geniuses so I would have no compunctions about asserting in reply that a diet high in wheat, sugar, milk, margarine and potatoes definitely causes birth problems. Weston Price had a few interesting things to say about the terrible effects of western foods on post-contact indigenous child development and health.

Ygraine said...

I agree, eat a good quality and varied diet and you generally won't go wrong.
I did, however, take folic acid and iron supplements during both of my full term pregnancies.
Sadly, though, sometimes however how many precautions you take, things can still go wrong: my daughter was born with diaphragmatic hernia, which resulted in her death at the age of two weeks.
My son, on the other hand, was (and still is!) perfectly healthy.

As you say, many factors are involved in the causes of birth obesity, smoking, drinking etc.
A sad fact of life, I guess.

Thank you so much for a really thought-provoking post.:))

A Hug.

Out on the prairie said...

This is the time of year I miss going into my yard to pick fresh veggies.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Sometimes "scientific studies" are quite accurate, especially if they are backed with a large volume of research. Correlations, on the other hand, are often flawed. I used to tell my students I would rather smoke cigarettes than eat carrots. I asked how many had eaten a carrot in their life and how many smoked. Far more students had eaten carrots, so I "concluded" I was safer to smoke than eat carrots. Although the students laughed, they got the point that correlations are often flawed or biased.

Anonymous said...

my husband has type two diabetes that he controls with diet, he was on meds but through diet change he has been able to stop them, I have been really interested in the keto diet , this post really helps to sift through the info, I really knew very little of the low carb diet until I started reading your blog and had no idea how it would help me as well! I don't always comment but please know I enjoy and read every post!! thanks so much my friend,,

Magic Love Crow said...

A very good post Jan! Thank you!

Linda said...

There are some studies indicating that natural folate is better for folks with the MTHFR mutation, which is a large number of people. They may not absorb the added form of folic acid very well.

Kate Bregovic said...

Great post!