The Mediterranean diet adherence by pregnant women delivering prematurely: association with size at birth and complications of prematurity

<p><b>Background:</b> The Mediterranean diet (MD) is associated with decreased risk of metabolic syndrome and gestational diabetes due to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties of its components. The aim was to investigate the potential association of MD adherence (MDA) during pregnancy by mothers delivering prematurely, with intrauterine growth as expressed by neonates’ anthropometry at birth and complications of prematurity.</p> <p><b>Participants and methods:</b> This is a single-center, prospective, observational cohort study of 82 women who delivered preterm singletons at post conceptional age (PCA) ≤ 34 weeks and their live-born neonates. Maternal and neonatal demographic and clinical data were recorded. All mothers filled in a food frequency questionnaire, and the MDA score was calculated. Based on 50th centile of MD score, participants were classified into high-MDA and low-MDA groups.</p> <p><b>Results:</b> The low-MDA mothers had significantly higher pregestational BMI and rates of overweight/obesity (odd ratios (OR) 3.5) and gestational hypertension/preeclampsia (OR 3.8). Neonates in the low-MDA group had significantly higher incidence of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) (OR 3.3) and lower z-scores of birth weight and BMI. Regarding prematurity-related complications, the low MDA-group was more likely to develop necrotizing enterocolitis, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and retinopathy of prematurity (OR 3.2, 1.3, and 1.6, respectively), while they were less likely to develop respiratory distress syndrome (OR 0.49), although the differences were not statistically significant. However, adjustment for confounders revealed MDA as a significant independent predictor of hypertension/preeclampsia, IUGR, birth weight z-score, necrotizing enterocolitis, and bronchopulmonary dysplasia.</p> <p><b>Conclusions:</b> High MDA during pregnancy may favorably affect intrauterine growth and certain acute and chronic complications of prematurity as well as maternal hypertension/preeclampsia.</p>