Eating chocolate during pregnancy improves the blood velocity in the uterine, placental and foetal circulations. Concerns about chocolates increasing the risk of preeclampsia abound, but this new study shows that chocolates are not so bad after all.
Many health care professionals and expectant mothers believe that consuming chocolates leads to preeclampsia, a condition in pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure, sometimes with fluid retention and proteinuria that can lead to convulsions if left untreated. The idea has also been shown in previous studies albeit with conflicting results.
The study, “High-Flavanol Chocolate to Improve Placental Function and to Decrease the Risk of Preeclampsia: A Double Blind Randomized Clinical Trial,” involved observing 129 women with singleton pregnancy in a single-centre randomised controlled trial. These women were between their 11 to 14 weeks of pregnancy and had double-notching on uterine artery Doppler.
The researchers placed the women into one group that consumed chocolates with high-flavanol and another group that ate chocolates with low-flavanol content. The pregnant women were given 30 grammes of chocolate everyday over a period of 12 weeks.
The women were assessed until delivery. The high blood pressure during pregnancy, preeclampsia, the weight of the placenta and birth weight were evaluated.
The researchers discovered that there was no difference in preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, placental weight or the birth weight observed in women in those two groups. However, the uterine artery Doppler pulsatility index, which indicates the status of blood circulation’s velocity, is improved in women who ate chocolates with high-flavanol content.
Additionally, these effects were not merely due to the flavanol content of the chocolates. According to Emmanuel Bujold, this study indicates the positive effects eating chocolate can bring on a growing and developing placenta and foetus.
The researchers will present the study on Feb. 4 at the Pregnancy Meeting in Atlanta during the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, an organisation of obstetricians/gynaecologists that aims to reduce high-risk pregnancy complications through employing the latest management techniques.