Eating Chocolate During Pregnancy: What Scientific Studies Say

Chocolate contains several biologically active components potentially having behavioral and psychological consequences. Scientists have studied the long-term effects of chocolate intake during pregnancy. Based on the findings of 4 studies, maternal diet during pregnancy might affect the development of infants. Particularly, consumption of chocolate has the following benefits:

(1) The first study was conducted on a sample of infants of 6 months old in 305 healthy mother–infant pairs. Maternal daily or weekly intake of chocolate during pregnancy is associated with less prenatal stress and also with more positive ratings of their offspring’s’ temperament at 6 months. This study concludes that in addition to producing subjective feelings of psychological well being, chocolate may have effects at multiple environmental and psychological levels.

(2) Data from 2441 children at 5 yr of age were analyzed. Consumption of chocolate, leafy vegetables, and malaceous fruits is associated with a reduced risk of wheezing in their offspring. In addition, this study shows higher maternal consumption of fruit and berry juices was positively associated with the risk of allergic rhinitis in children. No associations were observed between maternal food consumption and asthma.

(3) The 3rd and 4th studies suggest that chocolate intake during pregnancy can reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia (a condition in pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, sometimes with fluid retention and proteinuria).

(4) The 3rd study also shows that chocolate intake during pregnancy can reduce the risk of Gestational Hypertention (Gestational Hypertension is a form of high blood pressure in pregnancy. It occurs in about 6% of all pregnancies).

Hence, we suggest that pregnant woman do not need to avoid consumption of chocolate as long as they are aware of the caffeine and sugar levels, and choose the right type of chocolate (less caffeine and sugar).

Created on November 21 2015 at 08: 00 AM


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Details of Scientific Answers: Click on each bullet to Read References

References:

1: "Sweet babies: chocolate consumption during pregnancy and infant temperament at six months," Early human development, 2004, by Räikkönen, K., Pesonen, A. K., Järvenpää, A. L., & Strandberg, T. E.. (Citations: 19).

Background: Chocolate contains several biologically active components potentially having behavioral and psychological consequences. Aims: We tested whether chocolate consumption and stress experiences during pregnancy predict mother-rated infant temperament at 6 months. Design and subjects: Prenatal frequency of chocolate consumption and intensity of psychological stress experience of the mothers, and temperament characteristics of the infants 6 months postpartum were evaluated in 305 consecutive, healthy mother–infant dyads. Results: Mothers who reported daily consumption of chocolate rated more positively the temperament of their infants at 6 months. Maternal prenatal stress predicted more negatively tuned ratings of the infant temperament, particularly among those who reported never/seldom chocolate consumption. However, this effect was not observed among the mothers reporting weekly or daily chocolate consumption. Conclusions: In addition to producing subjective feelings of psychological well being, chocolate may have effects at multiple environmental and psychological levels.


References:

1: "Risk of asthma and allergic outcomes in the offspring in relation to maternal food consumption during pregnancy: a Finnish birth cohort study," Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 2012, by Erkkola, M., Nwaru, B. I., Kaila, M., Kronberg‐Kippilä, C., Ilonen, J., Simell, O., ... & Virtanen, S. M. . (Citations: 30).

Background:  Epidemiological and immunological studies suggest that maternal diet during pregnancy might affect the development of allergic diseases in the offspring. The authors set out to study the effect of maternal food consumption during pregnancy on the emergence of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC)-based allergic outcomes: asthma, allergic rhinitis, and wheeze by the 5 yr of age. Methods:  Data from 2441 children at 5 yr of age were analyzed within the Finnish Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention (DIPP) Nutrition Study, a population-based birth cohort study. Maternal diet was assessed with a validated food frequency questionnaire. Results:  In multiple regression models adjusted for known confounders, low maternal consumption of leafy vegetables (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 1.55; 95% CI: 1.21, 1.98), malaceous fruits (aOR: 1.45; 95% CI: 1.15, 1.84), and chocolate (aOR: 1.36; 95% CI: 1.09, 1.70) were positively associated with the risk of wheeze in children. High maternal consumption of fruit and berry juices was positively associated with the risk of allergic rhinitis (aOR: 1.40; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.90) in children. No associations were observed between maternal food consumption and asthma. Conclusions:  Development of allergic diseases in preschool children may be influenced by intrauterine exposure to maternal diet.


References:

1: "Chocolate consumption in pregnancy and reduced likelihood of preeclampsia," Epidemiology, 2008, by Triche, Elizabeth W., Laura M. Grosso, Kathleen Belanger, Amy S. Darefsky, Neal L. Benowitz, and Michael B. Bracken.. (Citations: 40).

Background Preeclampsia is a major pregnancy complication with cardiovascular manifestations. Recent studies suggest that chocolate consumption may benefit cardiovascular health. Methods We studied the association of chocolate consumption with risk of preeclampsia in a prospective cohort study of 2291 pregnant women who delivered a singleton livebirth between September 1996 and January 2000. Chocolate consumption was measured by self report in the first and third trimesters, and by umbilical cord serum concentrations of theobromine, the major methylxanthine component of chocolate. Preeclampsia was assessed by detailed medical record review for 1943 of the women. We derived adjusted odds ratios (aOR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) from logistic regression models controlling for potential confounders. Results Preeclampsia developed in 3.7% (n = 63) of 1681 women. Cord serum theobromine concentrations were negatively associated with preeclampsia (aOR = 0.31; CI = 0.11–0.87 for highest compared with lowest quartile). Self-reported chocolate consumption estimates also were inversely associated with preeclampsia. Compared with women consuming under 1 serving of chocolate weekly, women consuming 5+ servings per week had decreased risk: aOR = 0.81 with consumption in the first 3 months of pregnancy (CI = 0.37–1.79) and 0.60 in the last 3 months (0.30–1.24). Conclusions Our results suggest that chocolate consumption during pregnancy may lower risk of preeclampsia. However, reverse causality may also contribute to these findings.


2: "Does Chocolate Intake During Pregnancy Reduce the Risks of Preeclampsia and Gestational Hypertension? ," Annals of epidemiology, 2010, by Saftlas, Audrey F., Elizabeth W. Triche, Hind Beydoun, and Michael B. Bracken. (Citations: 23).

Purpose Chocolate consumption is associated with favorable levels of blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease risk markers. We analyzed a prospective cohort study to determine whether regular chocolate intake during pregnancy is associated with reduced risks of preeclampsia and gestational hypertension (GH). Methods Subjects were recruited from 13 prenatal care practices in Connecticut (1988−1991). In-person interviews were administered at <16 weeks' gestation to ascertain risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes. Hospital delivery and prenatal records were abstracted to classify preeclampsia (n = 58), GH (n = 158), and normotensive pregnancies (n = 2351). Chocolate consumption (servings/week) during the first and third trimesters was ascertained at initial interview and immediately postpartum, respectively. Consumers of less than 1 serving/week comprised the referent group. Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) were estimated by the use of logistic regression. Results Chocolate intake was more frequent among normotensive (80.7%) than preeclamptic (62.5%) or GH women (75.8%), and associated with reduced odds of preeclampsia (first trimester: aOR, 0.55; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.32−0.95; third trimester: aOR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.32−0.97). Only first trimester intake was associated with reduced odds of GH (aOR,0.65; 95% CI, 0.45−0.87). Conclusions These findings provide additional evidence of the benefits of chocolate. Prospective studies are needed to confirm and delineate protective effects of chocolate intake on risk of preeclampsia.


References:

1: "Does Chocolate Intake During Pregnancy Reduce the Risks of Preeclampsia and Gestational Hypertension? ," Annals of epidemiology, 2010, by Saftlas, Audrey F., Elizabeth W. Triche, Hind Beydoun, and Michael B. Bracken. (Citations: 23).

Purpose Chocolate consumption is associated with favorable levels of blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease risk markers. We analyzed a prospective cohort study to determine whether regular chocolate intake during pregnancy is associated with reduced risks of preeclampsia and gestational hypertension (GH). Methods Subjects were recruited from 13 prenatal care practices in Connecticut (1988−1991). In-person interviews were administered at <16 weeks' gestation to ascertain risk factors for adverse pregnancy outcomes. Hospital delivery and prenatal records were abstracted to classify preeclampsia (n = 58), GH (n = 158), and normotensive pregnancies (n = 2351). Chocolate consumption (servings/week) during the first and third trimesters was ascertained at initial interview and immediately postpartum, respectively. Consumers of less than 1 serving/week comprised the referent group. Adjusted odds ratios (aORs) were estimated by the use of logistic regression. Results Chocolate intake was more frequent among normotensive (80.7%) than preeclamptic (62.5%) or GH women (75.8%), and associated with reduced odds of preeclampsia (first trimester: aOR, 0.55; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.32−0.95; third trimester: aOR, 0.56; 95% CI, 0.32−0.97). Only first trimester intake was associated with reduced odds of GH (aOR,0.65; 95% CI, 0.45−0.87). Conclusions These findings provide additional evidence of the benefits of chocolate. Prospective studies are needed to confirm and delineate protective effects of chocolate intake on risk of preeclampsia.



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