The aim of the study was to examine associations between organic food consumption and the risk of developing pre-eclempsia among women during their first pregnancy.
Pre-eclampsia is a complication occurring in late stages of pregnancy, characterised by high blood pressure and protein presence in the urine. In severe cases it can be life threatening for the mother and foetus.
Its cause was unknown and delivery remained the only known treatment, meaning it was a common cause of premature birth.
The prospective cohort study followed 28,192 women pregnant for the first time between 2002-2008. They were asked to complete a food frequency questionnaire and general health questionnaire in mid-pregnancy.
The data taken from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study (MoBa) showed that 5.3% of the women involved developed pre-eclampsia. Those who ate organic vegetables ‘often’ or ‘mostly’ had a 24% lower risk of pre-eclampsia compared to those who consumed them ‘never/rarely’ or ‘sometimes’.
Organic vegetables, not organic food
No associations were found between lower risk of pre-eclampsia and the high consumption of organic fruit, cereals, eggs or milk.
“Possible explanations for an association between pre-eclampsia and use of organic vegetables could be that organic vegetables may change the exposure to pesticides, secondary plant metabolites and/or influence the composition of the gut microbiota,” said the researchers.
“Increased consumption of plant food, including vegetables, is recommended to all pregnant women, and this study shows that choosing organically grown vegetables may yield additional benefits,” they added.
Source: British Medical Journal Open
"Reduced risk of pre-eclampsia with organic vegetable consumption; results from the prospective Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study"
Authors: H. Torjusen, M. Haugen, J. Alezander et al.