According to new research, consuming large amounts of chips, crisps and biscuits during pregnancy can cause serious health problems for newborns, such as a below average birth weight.
Pregnant moms who consume large amounts of acrylamide, which is found in junk food and coffee, are also more likely to have a baby with a small head circumference.
The size of a newborns head has been linked with delayed neurodevelopment, while low birth weight has been associated with unfavourable health effects in early life and as children grow up.
Babies whose mom’s consumed 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, researchers found.
According to the authors, the average birth weight among children who were exposed to high amounts of acrylamide, compared to children with the lowest was around 100 grams.
These results showed that a high intake of acrylamide had comparable low birth weights found among babies whose mothers smoke during pregnancy.
According to the study, the infant’s heads were also up to 0.33 centimetres smaller.
What is Acrylamide?
Acrylamide is a chemical which is produced naturally in food as a result of cooking starch-rich food at high temperatures, such as when baking or frying. It has been found in a wide range of home-cooked and processed foods including crisps, chips, bread and coffee.
“The potential public-health implications of our findings are substantial,” the authors said.
“Increases in head circumference are an important indication of continued brain growth, and reduced birth head circumference has been associated with delayed neurodevelopment.
“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.”
“These findings provide evidence supporting the need for changes in food production and for providing clear public health advice to pregnant women to reduce their dietary intake of foods that may contain high concentrations of acrylamide.”
According to CREAL researcher and lead author Dr Marie Pedersen, “the public-health implications of the findings in this study are substantial.”
Later effects on baby
“Reduced birth weight, in particular low birth weight, has been shown to be related to numerous adverse health effects early or later in life such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Furthermore, reduced birth head circumference has been associated with delayed neurodevelopment.”
“This is important new research which demonstrates a clear link between acrylamide and the health of newborn babies,” said Professor John Wright from the Bradford Institute for Health Research, who is leading the Born in Bradford study.
“Our advice for pregnant mothers is to follow a balanced diet and go easy on the crisps and chips.