Indulging in chocolate during pregnancy could help ward off a serious complication known as pre-eclampsia according to a study in the journal of Epidemiology.
Sounding a note of caution, Padma Shri and Dr B C Roy National Awardee Dr KK Aggarwal, President Heart Care Foundation of India said that indiscriminate use of chocolate can increase obesity and worsen diabetes and heart disease.
Dark chocolate is rich in a chemical called theobromine, which stimulates the heart, relaxes smooth muscle and dilates blood vessels.
In pre-eclampsia, blood pressure spikes during pregnancy and excess protein is released into the urine.
Dr. Elizabeth W. Triche, examined 2,291 women who delivered a single infant and found that women who consumed the most chocolate and those whose infants had the highest concentration of theobromine in their cord blood were the least likely to develop pre-eclampsia.
Women in the highest quarter for cord blood theobromine were 69 percent less likely to develop the complication than those in the lowest quarter. Women who ate five or more servings of chocolate each week in their third trimester of pregnancy were 40 percent less likely to develop pre-eclampsia than those who ate chocolate less than once a week. A similar, but weaker, relationship between chocolate consumption and pre-eclampsia risk was seen in the first trimester, with women eating five or more servings of chocolate each week at 19 percent lower risk than those who ate chocolate less than once a week.
Gums bacteria can cause preterm delivery
Dr. Aggarwal further said that proper dental care can prevent heart attacks, heart blockages, asthma and COPD. Bacteria present in the gums have been linked to many diseases in the past.
Periodontal treatment should also be included in prenatal care programs. The Journal of Periodontology has shown that treating gum disease in pregnant women may prevent preterm birth.
A study has shown that while pregnant women whose periodontal disease was treated were no more likely to deliver their babies prematurely than women with no gum disease, those who did not recieve get treatment had a nearly 90-fold increased risk of premature delivery.
Another team found that the more bacteria women with periodontal disease had in their gums during and after pregnancy, the more likely they were to deliver their infants prematurely.