As I have mentioned in previous newsletters there has been a recent mini explosion of science telling us that what an expectant mother eats can have profound effects on her baby’s lifelong health. This month brought us a bit more. The journal Obstetrics and Gynecology reported that women who ate a typical “Western Diet,” characterized as high in red meat, pizza, potatoes and low in fruit were 1.9 times more likely to give birth to a child with cleft lip or cleft palate vs. those consuming a “Prudent” diet including more fish, garlic, nuts and veggies.
A second study (British Journal of Nutrition) conducted in laboratory rats found that rats fed chow laced with added junk food – rich in fat, sugar and sweet gave birth to pups that both favored and overate the same type of junk foods. This was in contrast to the pups from rats on just the regular chow. The relevant implication is that eating too much junk food during pregnancy may adversely affect childhood taste preferences along with appetite control.
And finally what I think is a profoundly important study in regards to the rapidly advancing childhood obesity crisis – scientists reported in the August issue of Diabetes Care that expectant mothers with abnormally high blood sugar, known as gestational diabetes, increased the chances of her child becoming obese by the ages of 5-7 by 89%.
Unfortunately, driven by an increase in maternal overweight and obesity, the incidence of gestational diabetes has skyrocketed over the past decade, rising by about 12% per year. There was great news from the study however, in that the risk was completely negated if the diabetic mothers kept their blood sugars normal. Diet, physical activity and if needed, shots of insulin are the interventions used to control abnormal blood sugar in expectant moms.
It’s reports like this that compelled me to create my new Healthy Pregnancy Grocery List. Pregnant women are generally uniquely motivated to make healthy lifestyle changes and it gives me great pleasure to make it a bit easier for them to do so!