For years, pregnant women have been warned to avoid some types of cheese.
But scientists now claim that it is safe for expectant mothers to consume – and is actually beneficial.
In fact, eating dairy products, such as milk and yoghurt, slashes the risk of having a baby with a low birth weight.
Every 100g of the nutrient daily reduces the likelihood by 11 per cent, Spanish research suggests.
Scientists now claim that eating cheese is safe for expectant mothers to consume – and is actually beneficial
Currently the NHS advises pregnant mothers to avoid certain types of cheeses out of fear of a harmful infection.
Listeriosis, which can cause birth complications or a miscarriage, can occur after eating various cheeses.
Pregnant women are at an increased risk due to hormonal changes that weaken their immune system.
But the new study shows that eating cheese could actually have a beneficial effect in allowing infants to develop properly in the womb.
Consuming dairy products, such as milk and yoghurt, slashes the risk of having a baby with a low birth weight
FOODS TO AVOID IN PREGNANCY
Avoid mould-ripened soft cheese such as brie and camembert, and blue-veined cheeses such as Danish blue, gorgonzola and roquefort.
But hard cheeses, such as cheddar, parmesan and stilton, and cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta and halloumi are all safe to eat.
Steer clear of all types, including vegetable pâtés, as they can contain listeria.
Make sure eggs are thoroughly cooked until the whites and yolks are solid to prevent the risk of salmonella food poisoning.
Many cold meats, such as salami, Parma ham, chorizo and pepperoni, are not cooked, they’re just cured and fermented. This means there’s a risk they contain toxoplasmosis-causing parasites.
Don’t eat liver or products containing liver, such as liver pâté, liver sausage or haggis, as they may contain a lot of vitamin A.
When you’re pregnant or planning to get pregnant, you shouldn’t eat tuna because it contains more mercury than other types of fish.
Source: NHS Choices
If pregnant women increased their dairy consumption to 600g a day, a fifth of infants born at a low weight could be avoided, University of Granada experts said.
This is the equivalent of three glasses of milk per day; or two glasses of milk and a portion of fresh cheese weighing 125 grams.
However, 39.7 per cent of all cases could be avoided if expectant mothers upped their daily intake to 900g.
Study author Rocío Olmedo Requena said: ‘What’s really interesting is that there seems to be a dose-response gradient.
‘The higher the intake of dairy products, the lower the risk of having a low birth weight baby.’
A low birth weight baby can be born too small, too early, or both as a result of health problems, genetic factors or problems with the placenta.
Some may become sick in the first days of life or develop infections.
Others may suffer from longer term problems such as delayed motor and social development or learning disabilities.
Identified as a global health problem, researchers have long been desperate to find a way to prevent it.
The latest study proves dairy, alongside other nutrients, to be important for the development of the foetus.
Scientists from the University of Granada monitored 1,175 pregnant women after modifying their diets.
They found that approximately one in eight of the infants were born at a weight deemed medically low.
Pregnant women who had lower consumption of dairy products were more likely to have infants of a fragile weight.