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Research into pregnant women with bowel diseases:

Health benefits of traditional Norwegian foods

Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, can affect pregnancy. Women with these diseases are more likely to have small or premature babies. But pregnant women who restricted themselves to traditional Norwegian foods had less risk of these outcomes than women with extremely healthy diets and those who had unhealthy diets.

Researchers found three types of dietary patterns among participants.
  • Prudent, with lots of greens, coarse grains and lean meats. A typical healthy meal included salads, vegetables and fruits, but little processed meat and fine bread.
  • Western, with French fries, cakes, snacks, processed meat and sugary drinks. In other words, a diet most people would perceive as unhealthy.
  • Traditional Norwegian, with fish and processed fish products, potatoes, gravy, rice porridge and boiled vegetables, but rarely pizza, tacos or chicken.
"We thought perhaps that the prudent dietary pattern would be protective," says Thea Myklebust-Hansen, one of the researchers behind the new study. The data shows something different. reports how the researchers saw no clear connection between dietary patterns and the risk of low birth weights or premature births. However, the data showed that women with ulcerative colitis who most adhered to the traditional Norwegian dietary pattern had a significantly lower risk of giving birth to a too small baby.

"It's quite exciting that the traditional dietary pattern actually stands out," says Myklebust-Hansen. “It’s not clear that what is healthy for healthy mothers is the healthiest for expectant mothers with IBD.”

Christine Olbjørn, who also studies inflammatory bowel disease, says she finds the results interesting. “Perhaps the traditional Norwegian dietary pattern provides something that is important for IBD mothers." She warns, however, that there isn’t enough yet known to draw solid conclusions. But the results suggest areas that might be interesting for future research.

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