Preliminary study finds pomegranate juice may lower fetal brain damage risk
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Preliminary study finds pomegranate juice may lower fetal brain damage risk

Haifa team finds that pregnant rats who drank the nectar showed significant reduction in susceptibility to dangerous inflammation in themselves and their embryos

Pomegranates sold for the upcoming Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, on September 8, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Pomegranates sold for the upcoming Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, on September 8, 2014. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Drinking pomegranate juice could reduce the risk of premature birth and brain damage to fetuses, an preliminary Israeli study on rodent test subjects has shown.

Inflammation is the body’s immune response to a perceived danger. Infection and inflammation in the womb can lead to premature births and can damage fetuses’ brains. Some women are at particular risk of developing inflammation.

“Studies have shown that pomegranates are rich in polyphenols (a type of free-radical-neutralizing compounds), known to have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that help protect against cardiovascular disease,” said Professor Ron Beloosesky, director of the Prenatal Ultrasound Unit in the Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Rambam Hospital, which conducted the study in cooperation with the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

“Because we know some causes of brain damage in fetuses are related to inflammatory processes, we thought to test if drinking pomegranate juice could help prevent infection and inflammation in the mother and thus reduce the risk of damaging the fetus.”

The Research Team (L-R): Top Row, Dr. Nizar Khatib, Professor Zeev Wiener, and Dr. Yuval Ginsburg; Bottom Row (L-R) Dr. Noor Saadi and Professor Ron Beloosesky (Pioter Fliter)

The study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The research showed that pomegranates’ anti-inflammatory properties reduced inflammation in pregnant rats as well as in their fetuses.

Rats exposed to inflammatory processes after several days of drinking pomegranate juice continued to show significantly reduced levels of inflammation in the mothers and fetuses, as well fewer signs of brain injury to the latter.

Rats who had not been given pomegranate juice showed no such improvement.

The researchers said they plan on taking the study forward. It’s unclear if humans would have the same reactions as rats.

“Although this is a preliminary study, the results are very interesting,” Beloosesky said. “It seems that an accessible and inexpensive juice that can be found in any supermarket has a positive effect on a serious problem that harms mothers and their embryos. We are continuing the research in order to better understand its mechanisms.”

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