A mother’s diet during pregnancy and lactation have been linked to obesity. The old sitcom images of pregnant women eating everything in sight are now motifs of the past. Just about every pregnant woman that you see on T.V. or in the news explains that she is always hungry. Eating for a growing new life is one thing, but consuming way too much and allowing far too many fattening foods have recently been shown to have devastating impacts on a developing child.
While mothers require more nutrition and may eat larger portions, the makeup of their diet is crucial during each phase of pregnancy. From conception to lactation, what a mother puts in her mouth to satiate her hunger directly translates to and affects her infant’s genetic makeup and brain structure.
Pregnant mother’s who eat more fatty foods during pregnancy may be putting their baby’s brain at risk. Findings on lab rats showed that insulin signals could be affected, literally rewiring the brain and causing a higher risk of obesity later in life. This study could shed some light on the idea of obesity stemming from hereditary causes, emphasizing the need for soon-to-be moms to monitor their diet during pregnancy and lactation since the link to obesity is so apparent.
When the mother eats more food with high fat contact, glucose regulation goes askew in the developing fetus. The brain functions that control hunger and fullness become interrupted, and even the way in which fat is broken down is compromised. Of course, any type of unhealthy diet while pregnant can cause negative affects to the DNA of the baby, which is why a nutritious, balanced diet is so important and paves the road for a healthy and long life. Poor diets lead to difficulties later in life with heart disease, cancer, and other lasting ailments. The old adages still remain in effect: mothers should get appropriate portions with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.
Studies further showed the importance of a healthy during a mother’s lactation. Normal-weight rodent offspring who fed from a mother with a diet high in fats continued to receive negative brain effects. In fact, the results were comparable to the same diets in the third trimester of pregnancy, proving that nursing mothers have to be careful about their dietary habits as well.
Even women at the ideal weight could be consuming too many fats in their diet. It is important to get the right consultation from doctors when pregnant. This study is just one more building block on the bridge between early fetal and infant development and life-long health impacts. It also provides more ammo for supporting the nutritional health of new moms in relation to fighting the epidemic of obesity in American children and, increasingly, in other Western countries.
Some doctors may now point towards how much weight a mother gains during pregnancy as a good contributing factor to the developing child’s overall health. Children of the mothers who gained an excessive amount of weight had higher instances of obesity later in life. All in all, these new studies prove that while we cannot change our genes, we can help ensure strong and healthy genes for our children by carefully monitoring diet during pregnancy and lactation to help avoid obesity.
By Alisha Grace Scott