We all know that smoking during pregnancy can lead to an underweight baby, but were you aware that eating large quantities of chips and crisps could have a comparable effect on your baby's size?
Acrylamide has been found in foods such as chips
A new study has shown that mothers-to-be who have a high intake of acrylamide are more likely to have a baby with a lower than average birth weight and a smaller head circumference.
Acrylamide is a chemical which is produced naturally as a result of cooking starch-rich food at high temperatures, such as baking or frying. It has been found in a wide range of foods including crisps, chips, bread and coffee.
Researchers examined the diets of 1,100 pregnant women between 2006 and 2010 in Denmark, England, Greece, Norway and Spain by using food-frequency questionnaires, as well as examining each baby’s cord blood for information about acrylamide exposure during pregnancy.
They found that babies born to mothers with a high dietary intake of acrylamide were found to be up to 132 grams lighter than babies born to mothers who had a low intake. Low birth weights have been associated with adverse health effects in later life.
The effects are comparable to lower birth weights caused by maternal smoking.
In addition, the infant’s heads were also up to 0.33 centimetres smaller. The size of a child’s head has been associated with delayed neurodevelopment.
The study was led by the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona, and involved 20 research centres across Europe. The authors of the study wrote: “The potential public-health implications of our findings are substantial”.
"Reduced birth weight is a risk factor for numerous adverse health effects early in life, and has been associated with multiple adverse outcomes later in life such as reduced stature, increased incidence of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and osteoporosis."
Dr Laura Hardie, reader in molecular epidemiology at the University of Leeds, said: "186 women from the Born in Bradford study took part in this major European research programme. We found that their babies had the highest levels of acrylamide out of all of the five centres, almost twice the level of the Danish babies.
"When we investigated their diet it was clear that the largest source of dietary acrylamide is from chips."
Studies in rodent models have found that acrylamide exposure also increases the risk of developing several types of cancer. However, the evidence from human studies is still incomplete.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012