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Reduced risk of pre-eclampsia with organic vegetable consumption: results from the prospective Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study
  1. Hanne Torjusen1,2,
  2. Anne Lise Brantsæter2,
  3. Margaretha Haugen2,
  4. Jan Alexander3,
  5. Leiv S Bakketeig4,
  6. Geir Lieblein5,
  7. Hein Stigum4,
  8. Tormod Næs6,7,
  9. Jackie Swartz8,9,
  10. Gerd Holmboe-Ottesen10,
  11. Gun Roos2,
  12. Helle Margrete Meltzer2
  1. 1National Institute for Consumer Research (SIFO), Oslo, Norway
  2. 2Division of Environmental Medicine, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway
  3. 3Office of the Director-General, Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway
  4. 4Division of Epidemiology, The Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway
  5. 5Department of Plant Sciences, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway
  6. 6Nofima, Ås, Norway
  7. 7Department of Food Science, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark
  8. 8Uppsala University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden
  9. 9Vidarkliniken, Järna, Sweden
  10. 10Department of General Practice and Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Hanne Torjusen; hanne.torjusen{at}


Objective Little is known about the potential health effects of eating organic food either in the general population or during pregnancy. The aim of this study was to examine associations between organic food consumption during pregnancy and the risk of pre-eclampsia among nulliparous Norwegian women.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting Norway, years 2002–2008.

Participants 28 192 pregnant women (nulliparous, answered food frequency questionnaire and general health questionnaire in mid-pregnancy and no missing information on height, body weight or gestational weight gain).

Main outcome measure Relative risk was estimated as ORs by performing binary logistic regression with pre-eclampsia as the outcome and organic food consumption as the exposure.

Results The prevalence of pre-eclampsia in the study sample was 5.3% (n=1491). Women who reported to have eaten organic vegetables ‘often’ or ‘mostly’ (n=2493, 8.8%) had lower risk of pre-eclampsia than those who reported ‘never/rarely’ or ‘sometimes’ (crude OR=0.76, 95% CI 0.61 to 0.96; adjusted OR=0.79, 95% CI 0.62 to 0.99). The lower risk associated with high organic vegetable consumption was evident also when adjusting for overall dietary quality, assessed as scores on a healthy food pattern derived by principal component analysis. No associations with pre-eclampsia were found for high intake of organic fruit, cereals, eggs or milk, or a combined index reflecting organic consumption.

Conclusions These results show that choosing organically grown vegetables during pregnancy was associated with reduced risk of pre-eclampsia. Possible explanations for an association between pre-eclampsia and use of organic vegetables could be that organic vegetables may change the exposure to pesticides, secondary plant metabolites and/or influence the composition of the gut microbiota.

  • Organic food
  • preeclampsia
  • prospective cohort stuy
  • MoBa

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