This study aimed to determine if ultra-processed foods (UPF) consumption and some lifestyle factors during pregnancy influenced the baby’s anthropometric measurements at birth.

Ultra-processed foods (UPF) do not keep their primary characteristics even after going through different processes and techniques to add industry-exclusive ingredients to their mix.

UPF has low protein, fiber, and important micronutrients for fetal growth and is nutritionally deficient due to its high sugar, saturated and trans-fat, and sodium content. Thus, this consumption can alter children’s lipid profile, metabolic syndrome, and obesity in adolescents and adults.

There should be a moderate intake of UPF during pregnancy because inadequate intake of macro and micronutrients can affect gestational weight gain (GWG), blood pressure, glycemia, and intrauterine growth, resulting in offspring who are born at a different weight and length.

Low birth weight (LBW; <2500 g) is closely related to neonatal and infant mortality and is the most significant factor in the first year of life. An infant born with low weight (between 2500 and 2999 g) has up to three times the risk of dying compared with an infant with adequate weight and a higher risk of growth and development problems.

Additionally, the effect of UPF consumption during pregnancy on measurement deviations at birth remains unclear, and no studies have used NOVA classification to clarify how UPF contributes to those deviations.

According to Santana et al., in a Brazilian municipality, women with inadequate gestational weight gain (GWG) were 2.6 times more likely to give birth to children with low birth weights than women with adequate GWGs.

In a Brazilian prospective cohort, the consumption of UPF (fast food and snacks, cakes, cookies, candies, and desserts) was linked to a greater number of LGA babies and birth lengths greater than the 90th percentile. In contrast, a recent systematic review found that consumption of UPF during pregnancy has no effect on anthropometric measurements at one year of age.

What Did The Research Reveal?

This cross-sectional study evaluated 626 immediate postpartum mothers and babies in a Brazilian public maternity hospital between 2018 and 2019. During pregnancy, the researchers calculated the pre-gestational body mass index (BMI) by taking the researchers’ self-reported pre-gestational weight and height according to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

This study used a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ), validated for the Brazilian adult population, to measure food consumption during pregnancy. There were 57 items in the questionnaire, with frequency and quantifications expressed in homemade measurements for the foods consumed during pregnancy (the last nine months).

As a result, despite sociodemographic, gestational, and environmental factors interfering with the outcomes, UPF consumption during pregnancy did not impact the baby’s anthropometric measurements at birth.

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