Nurturing the baby growing in a mother’s womb is a natural phenomenon, and nutrition is the most important aspect of it. Food consumed during pregnancy should be carefully chosen as not all foods are considered safe for a pregnant lady and her developing fetus. One such food additive is monosodium glutamate, commonly known as MSG is widely used in Chinese food preparations. Here are some of the potential side effects of MSG in pregnancy:
- Research shows that routine consumption of MSG during pregnancy can cause something called the MSG Complex. It can elicit unpleasant responses such as headaches, muscle stiffness and slight numbness. It can also cause acidity, palpitations, heartburn, nausea, sweating and hot flushes. These side effects may vary from mild to severe, depending on the individual. Though medications can reduce these symptoms, medicines are best avoided during pregnancy.
- MSG releases chemical substances called free glutamates. These free glutamates are known to breach the placental barrier. This can result in a lot of adverse reactions in the developing fetus. Breakdown of the protective barrier makes the fetus vulnerable to many foreign substances that are present outside of it. These may be allergens, carcinogens, and any disease-causing organisms. Immune system and immune responses are not yet fully developed in a growing fetus. So, an attack from any such foreign agent may be risky to the health of the baby and the mother as well. Free glutamates are also known to reach the neurons in the brain and cause over stimulation.
- MSG is a salt by composition that is derived from glutamic acid. This sodium derivative may lead to excess accumulation of salts in the pregnant woman’s body and cause water retention. Water retention can cause swelling of the feet – edema, elevate blood pressure and bloating among other side effects. These are very unpleasant responses that can lead to further complications to the concerned organs in the body.
- MSG in present in packaged foods in various forms such as soy extract, hydrolyzed yeast, yeast extract and hydrolyzed vegetable protein. So pregnant ladies should be cautious when choosing packaged food. Excessive MSG in the body can also trigger intolerance and sensitivity to the additive. Those who have MSG sensitivity during pregnancy may develop gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and nausea due to intake of foods laced with MSG.
- Hypersensitivity or skin reaction is one of the common side effects of MSG during pregnancy. Itching, sweating, tingling and burning sensations on face, chest and neck are very common. Though these symptoms are usually mild, some pregnant women may show heightened responses around the mouth such as swelling of the lips, tongue and even the food pipe and wind pipe. When this happens, it may obstruct breathing and lead due severe complications such as choking and asphyxiation.
Thus, MSG though certified as safe by the FDA, is a food additive that is riddled in controversy. Though it is considered generally safe, but due to the adverse reactions that it may cause, it is advised that pregnant women take precaution during this crucial phase of motherhood and avoid intake of foods with MSG.