The phenomenon of pregnancy is a major health issues for women so much to the extent that a developing foetus is considered a parasite in some quarters. Right from the point of fertilisation of the egg by the winning sperm, the implantation of the zygote into the womb, the differentiation of the cell mass into tissues, up to the formation of a complete baby and giving birth, the body of a woman keeps changing due to hormonal changes. Many health-related issues that do not surface ordinarily starts surfacing and often times, a thin line separates normal and a normal health conditions.
As a result, pregnant women are often counseled on their lifestyles, including the kind of foods they eat, the kind of clothes they wear, the kind of physical activities they engage in, and many other lifestyle related issues. Out of all these issues, the diet, in terms of the kind of food taken, of a pregnant woman is perhaps the most sensitive factor to be considered for the healthy living of the mother.
One of the most common foods that is grown in the Southwestern part of Nigeria is Plantain. The plantain plant is scientifically known asMusa paradisi and grows well round the year. However, the peak fruiting and harvesting period is usually between October and January of the following year, although the period has slightly been modified due to the effects of the climate change. Plantain is usually fried as "dodo", boiled, or peeled, dried, and grounded into flour to make a local dish known as "amala".
Since we are in the peak harvesting period, plantain has been flowing well in my house and only until recently did myself and my wife started feeling concerned if the consumption of the fruit has any negative consequence for pregnant women, especially those in their last trimester of their gestation period. I started giving her blood pressure a close monitoring and recently, her average borders around what can be considered high for a pregnant woman. Without any history of high blood pressure before now, I felt that there might be a bit of correlation between her high BP and a recent upward shot in plantain presence in our diet.
Upon close investigation, I found out that plantain should ordinarily not be harmful to a pregnant woman or her baby. In actual fact, the consumption of plantain plays a huge health roles in the body of pregnant women, including being a rich source of starch, immunity booster, bone strengthener, diuretic, as well as containing several important nutrients for healthy living, among other benefits. However, just like every other foods, it is generally advisable for pregnant women to not eat too much of the fruit.
Locally, however, there are pseudoscientific beliefs that the consumption of plantain by pregnant women can be detrimental to the health of the baby by causing a partially formed hole at the center of the head of babies, otherwise locally known as "ọ̀kà". In reality, what these people refer to as ọ̀kà is the anterior fontanelle of the baby which is a membraneous portion covering the brain and allows for the growth of the brain.
Because of the variation in the appearance of this membrane which can be obvious and pulsating in some babies (perhaps due to malnutrition, hairlessness, etc), and seemingly covered in others (due to hair and good nutrition), the locals diagnose ọ̀kà and point out the consumption of plantain while the mother was pregnant as one of the causes. This is far from being medically correct.
Throughout my investigation, I never saw any scientific publications linking plantain to high BP in women. Gestating women are encouraged to eat plantain in moderation, especially the unripe ones. Perhaps the high BP is due to another thing entirely. We will be visiting the clinic in the coming days.
I had a somewhat plausible reason to believe that high blood pressure in pregnant wife could be related to the consumption of plantain so I decided to investigate by searching through the Internet. One of the things that drove me into this hypothesis was that, locally, it is believed that the consumption of plantain during pregnancy could lead to the baby having a weak anterior fontanelle, a condition erroneously diagnosed as ọ̀kà in Southwestern part of Nigeria. My investigation brought nothing but positive affirmation of the healthy nature of plantain consumption to pregnant women, albeit in moderation. In conclusion, I was unable to find a link between plantain and High blood pressure in pregnant folks.
Thank you all for reading.