Organic food consumption during pregnancy and its association with health-related characteristics: the KOALA Birth Cohort Study

Public Health Nutr. 2017 Aug;20(12):2145-2156. doi: 10.1017/S1368980017001215. Epub 2017 Jun 19.


Objective: To investigate the associations of organic food consumption with maternal pre-pregnancy BMI, hypertension and diabetes in pregnancy, and several blood biomarkers of pregnant women.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: Pregnant women were recruited at midwives' practices and through channels related to consumption of food from organic origin.

Subjects: Pregnant women who filled in FFQ and donated a blood sample (n 1339). Participant groups were defined based on the share of consumed organic products; to discriminate between effects of food origin and food patterns, healthy diet indicators were considered in some statistical models.

Results: Consumption of organic food was associated with a more favourable pre-pregnancy BMI and lower prevalence of gestational diabetes. Compared with participants consuming no organic food (reference group), a marker of dairy products intake (pentadecanoic acid) and trans-fatty acids from natural origin (vaccenic and rumenic acids) were higher among participants consuming organic food (organic groups), whereas elaidic acid, a marker of the intake of trans-fatty acids found in industrially hydrogenated fats, was lower. Plasma levels of homocysteine and 25-hydroxyvitamin D were lower in the organic groups than in the reference group. Differences in pentadecanoic acid, vaccenic acid and vitamin D retained statistical significance when correcting for indicators of the healthy diet pattern associated with the consumption of organic food.

Conclusions: Consumption of organic food during pregnancy is associated with several health-related characteristics and blood biomarkers. Part of the observed associations is explained by food patterns accompanying the consumption of organic food.

Keywords: Trans-fatty acids; Body weight regulation; Folate; Food and nutrient intake; Organic food; Pregnancy and nutrition.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Mass Index
  • Dairy Products
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids / blood
  • Female
  • Food, Organic*
  • Fruit
  • Homocysteine / blood
  • Humans
  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated / administration & dosage
  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated / blood
  • Meat
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Micronutrients / blood
  • Netherlands
  • Oleic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Oleic Acid / analysis
  • Oleic Acids / administration & dosage
  • Oleic Acids / blood
  • Pregnancy
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trans Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Trans Fatty Acids / blood
  • Vegetables
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Fatty Acids
  • Linoleic Acids, Conjugated
  • Micronutrients
  • Oleic Acids
  • Trans Fatty Acids
  • Homocysteine
  • Vitamin D
  • 9,11-linoleic acid
  • Oleic Acid
  • elaidic acid
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • pentadecanoic acid
  • 11-octadecenoic acid