Study Shows Eating Chocolate During Pregnancy Aids Fetal Development

Healthy Living

March 6, 2016

Pregnant women around the world are likely rejoicing with the breaking news on chocolate and pregnancy. Whether you are a chocoholic or not, just the fact that chocolate is not being added to the long list of foods pregnant women should avoid during pregnancy is reason enough to celebrate. But for those who like to indulge in the delicious goodness of the wonder that is chocolate this news is especially sweet. A brand new study that was just presented at the 2016 Pregnancy Meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Atlanta, GA. indicates that eating 30 g of dark chocolate each day during a woman’s pregnancy may be beneficial to the fetal growth and development of the mother’s baby and placenta. Mothers world wide proclaim, Can I get an AMEN!

It is important to note that while chocolate has many health benefits for mother and baby alike, it is still very important to stay within the recommended guidelines on how much of it is safe to consume due to the sugar, caffeine and fat content in chocolate. If you would like more information on the pros and cons of chocolate consumption in general go to

However, taking the safe consumption guidelines into consideration, there are numerous benefits to eating chocolate, one of which is flavonoids. Flavanols are contained in dark chocolate, the darker the chocolate the higher the flavanol content, these are a type of flavonoids that has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular incidents such as hypertension, diabetes, heart attack and stroke, as well as lowering cholesterol and other health benefits.

There have also been previous reports in which studies indicated that during pregnancy, eating recommended amounts of dark chocolate daily may lower the risks of the mother developing preeclampsia, a dangerous condition pregnant women sometimes suffer from during their pregnancy whereby the blood supply to the fetus is restricted due to high blood pressure in the pregnant mother. But, there has been conflicting opinions on the findings of the link between dark chocolate consumption during pregnancy and preeclampsia, which prompted Dr. Emmanuel Bujold, Universite Laval Quebec City, Canada and his researchers to conduct further studies.

To gain clarification of these studies researchers enrolled 129 pregnant mothers between 11 – 14 weeks gestation, who were expecting a single child (birth). All of the study participants had double notching on the uterine artery Doppler pulsatility index at the start of the study. This (uterine artery Doppler pulsatility test) is a test that measures blood flow; uterine, placental and fetal, and notches are indicators of the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) preeclampsia and other possible adverse pregnancy conditions.

The study participants were randomly selected to eat 30 g of either high or low flavanol dark chocolate each day for a period of twelve weeks. At the end of the study period (12 weeks) the expectant mothers were once again tested, uterine artery Doppler pulsatility was measured and then the study participants were followed-up on through till birth of the child.

What The New Study Found:

  • No differences were found between low flavanol dark chocolate and high flavanol dark chocolate, both types had positive results in the test subjects.
  • Both dark chocolate study groups (low flavanol and high flavanol) had significant improvement in uterine artery Doppler pulsatility.


The researchers found that the “significant improvement” was far greater than what could be expected among the general population. “This study indicates that chocolate could have a positive impact on placenta and fetal growth and development and that chocolate’s effects are not solely and directly due to flavanol content,” said Dr. Bujold.

In other words the significant improvement seen in the pregnant mothers in this study would not necessarily be found in women in general and that it did not matter how high or low the flavanols were in the dark chocolate, it was that dark chocolate was consumed daily that brought about the “significant improvement” including the possibility of the improvement of placental function and reduction of the risk of preeclampsia.

Dr. Bujold stated that he and his research team intend to conduct further studies, a large randomized control trial that will include a third group of women who are not consuming dark chocolate daily, which was lacking in this study, to get more quantitative results as to the differences in the reduction of risk for preeclampsia and other associated hypertensive conditions in pregnant women.

So ladies indulge in your dark chocolate daily knowing its good for you and your baby!