A new study published in Environmental Health Perspectives has found that pregnant moms can protect their growing babies from chemical exposure by eating more fruits and veggies.

The study looked specifically at a baby's prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons - or PAHs - chemicals that have been linked to higher incidence of depression, childhood obesity, anxiety, and ADHD in children.  PAHs are released into the environment when organic materials are not completely combusted, such as when burning fossil fuels or tobacco or even grilling certain foods.  They can be inhaled from the air or ingested with meals.  

For the study, researchers looked at data collected from over 600 newborns born in maternity wards in Denmark, the United Kingdom, Spain, Greece and Norway.  Researchers found that women who ate higher amounts of fruits and vegetables during pregnancy - according to detailed food surveys completed during pregnancy - were better able to protect their babies from any possible negative effects of PAH exposure - such as low birth weight - than women who did not eat as much produce.

Now I know from first hand experience that there is no shortage of advice handed out to pregnant women.  What to drink.  What not to eat.  How to exercise. Which vitamins to take.  Which medicines to avoid. And so on, and so on.  So I'm always hesitant to add to that onslaught of do's and don'ts.  But it's always a good idea to add more fruits and veggies to your diet.  And this study just confirms that for pregnant women, the advantages go beyond the extra vitamins and minerals gained.

Bottom line: Always talk to your doctor before making any special changes in your diet.  But if you're pregnant or hoping to become so, have a salad while you're at it.

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