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Study reveals how high-fat diet during pregnancy increases risk of stillbirth Share This OHSU Content

06/08/11  Portland, Ore.

The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology's Antonio Frias, MD, weighs in on study

Surprisingly, eating a fatty diet has negative consequences regardless of whether the mother is obese or slender.

Eating a high-fat diet during pregnancy increases the chance of stillbirth, according to new research at Oregon Health & Science University. The new data show eating a typical American diet, which is high in fat, decreases blood flow from the mother to the placenta, the temporary organ that nourishes the unborn fetus. Prior to this study, exactly how a fatty diet contributes to stillbirth was unclear. The findings are published in the June edition of the journal Endocrinology.

The study was conducted at the OHSU Oregon National Primate Research Center. Because the placental structure of the Japanese macaque is very similar to that in humans, cause and effect can be better established. The researchers hope their work will inform expectant moms and their physicians about the inherent dangers of a high-calorie, high-fat diet.