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Weight-loss diets such as ketosis and Atkins have popularised lowering your carbohydrate intake. Find out how such diets could possibly endanger your health.

At the University of North Carolina, Research Assistant Professor, Tania Desrosiers led a team of researchers to examine the effects that cutting out carbohydrates might have on women that are either expecting or planning to be pregnant.

The study revealed that women with a low carbohydrate intake are 30 per cent more likely to have babies with neural tube defects. The results showed that women who restrict carbohydrates could possibly affect their baby’s spinal cord, brain and skull development. Serious cases could even lead to lifelong disability or infant death.

This is because women who restrict carbohydrates do not get an ample amount of folic acid. This is an essential nutrient for pregnant women as it minimises the risk of neural tube defects.

Folic acid is a vitamin that is present in whole-wheat products, dried beans, peas, lentils, oranges, liver, asparagus, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and spinach. It’s important as it helps your body produce and maintain new cells.

As many of the foods listed above are restricted in popular high-protein and high-fat diets, these study results are worrying as such diet trends are fairly popular. The researchers advised women to speak with health care professionals about their eating habits if they are planning a future pregnancy to ensure the proper development of their child.

This article was first published on The Singapore Women’s Weekly.