NAGOYA pregnant women who eat frozen food and ready-made bento lunches have more than double the chance of having a stillborn baby, according to the results of analysis by a Japanese research team.
According to the data of 94,062 pregnant women obtained from the Japan Environment and Children's Study JECS by the Ministry of the Environment, the research team led by Nagoya City University obstetrics and gynecology professor Mayumi Sugiura and specially appointed professor of nutrition Hazuki Tamada looked at the relationship between pregnancy results and eating ready-made meals sold in bento lunchboxes, frozen foods, instant foods and canned foods.
The statistical processing was carried out at the time of the analysis to remove the influence of factors such as age and physique, smoking and drinking history, and the mother's income that were found to be related to pregnancy results in the JECS. The JECS conducted a series of interviews with 100,000 pregnant women and their children from January 2011 to March 2014 to examine the impact of environmental hazards, such as chemical substances.
The team's analysis found a link between stillbirths and the frequency of frozen foods and bento lunches. Pregnant women who consumed a medium amount of ready-made lunches had double the chance of having a stillborn baby, compared to those who ate a small amount less than once a week, while women who consumed a large amount at least three to seven times a week had 2.6 times the risk. For frozen foods, stillbirth chances for women who ate medium to large amounts were 2.2 times higher than those who only consumed a small amount.
Professor Sugiura said that Bisphenol A, which is used for food containers when microwaved, can affect pregnancy results. Some ready-made bento lunchboxes and frozen foods are often heated in the microwave, and the chemicals that leach out may be the cause of stillbirths. A small amount of bisphenol A remains in polycarbonate containers, and the health ministry has established elution test standards for these and other receptacles. Since there are several research reports showing that even very small amounts of Bisphenol A impact living organisms, the ministry requested the Food Safety Commission of Japan to review their health implications in 2008. It is still waiting for a reply.
Of the 94,062 people surveyed in the JECS, 0.9% had stillbirths, 4.8% preterm births, 7% babies small for gestational age - referring to a baby smaller than usual for the number of weeks of pregnancy and 8.1% of babies with low birth weights.
The results were published in the international scientific journal Nutrients on February 20.