Preterm births or deliveries (premature birth) occur when the birth of a baby happens at less than a 37 week gestation. Organs, especially the lungs, are not fully matured to support life the earlier a preterm birth/delivery occurs. Infections, death, and brain damage are some of the risks associated with preterm delivery.
Recently, in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers compared intake of allium vegetables (garlic, onions, leeks, chives) and dried fruit intake (raisins, apricots, prunes, figs, and dates) to the risk of spontaneous premature delivery in 18,888 women enrolled in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort.
Overall 950 (5%) had a preterm delivery. Very early preterm delivery (at 28 to 31 weeks) was decreased by 61% in those who ate alliums. The strongest decrease in preterm deliveries (53%) occurred in those who ate garlic. Those who ate alliums or dried fruit had an 18% lower risk of preterm delivery compared to those who did not. Premature rupture of the membranes (PROM) was decreased by 26% in those who ate dried fruit with a 29% decrease in PROM in those who ate raisins.
The study authors noted that a significant number of women with preterm deliveries have infections as a cause. They noted that the studied food types, alliums and dried fruit, contain antimicrobial components that affect bacteria causing preterm deliveries. They also contain dietary fiber which is a prebiotic (food ingredient that stimulates growth/activity of healthy bacteria).