photo: Dylan and Sara

Since there’s not enough pressure already to eat and do the right things during pregnancy, a new study has revealed that your diet before you even get pregnant might have an impact on your future baby’s health. Read on to find out more about what the research says you should be doing to stay healthy.

A recent study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has found that many American women are lacking in proper nutrition prior to becoming pregnant. Analyzing data collected from over 7,500 women, ranging between 6 and 14 weeks pregnant, the researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Health Sciences found that many women, especially minorities, were not meeting the dietary recommendations established in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Less than 10 percent of the women met the guidelines for whole grains, fatty acids, sodium or empty calories categories.

According to the report, green salad and processed cereals were the top two sources of folate, except for black women, whose second highest folate source was 100 percent orange or grapefruit juice. Folate and iron are important nutrients for developing fetuses and healthy pregnancies. Overall, healthy diets have been linked to reduced risk of preterm birth, fetal growth restriction, preeclampsia, and maternal obesity. “Future research needs to determine if improving pre-pregnancy diet leads to better pregnancy and birth outcomes. If so, then we need to explore and test ways to improve the diets for everyone, particularly women likely to become pregnant,” said the study’s lead author, Lisa Bodnar, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D.

Have you taken steps to change your diet when trying to conceive? Share your own experiences and healthy eating tips in the comments.