Almost a decade ago, paediatrician and researcher Professor Ralph Nanan began investigating the impact of diet on one of the most common, potentially deadly, complications in pregnancy, preeclampsia, and the longer term impact on babies’ immune systems.
Over 1,000 women participated in the published studies which have opened new avenues of research and may help to explain a rise in allergies and immune system problems in those following a typical, low fibre, Western diet.
“The latest scientific paper is the culmination of seven years of work, but it’s just the beginning,” says Ralph.
“The next phase will be a large multi-year study of increased fibre intake in one to two thousand pregnant women. The research will examine whether preeclampsia in pregnant women, and allergies and other immune problems for their babies later in the life, can be prevented with a healthy high fibre diet.”
Pre-eclampsia affects 10 percent of pregnancies. It is a potentially fatal complication characterised by high blood pressure. Preeclampsia interferes with the child’s immune development whilst in the womb, with some evidence suggesting a link to higher rates of allergies and autoimmune disease for the child later in life.