I'll never forget the pressure I felt during pregnancy to eat, exercise and even breathe with my baby in mind. One prenatal bible I read warned me that every morsel of food I put in my mouth, every beverage I sipped on, and every step I took would have serious implications for the health of my soon-to-be-born child.  

I'll also never forget how much I resented this type of pressure. I mean, I was bound and determined to eat a healthy diet and stay in shape, both for my own health and for that of my baby, but the last thing I needed at the time was a steaming pile of guilt every time I loafed on the sofa or snacked on a chip.

Unfortunately, a new study has confirmed that not only should soon-to-be moms be paranoid about their health, but they should also start that guilt, pressure and paranoia even earlier.

A new study has found that a child's cancer risk is affected by a mother's health and lifestyle during pregnancy. More than that, the risk is affected by the mother's health and lifestyle even before she gets pregnant.  

Cancer is usually associated with people's genes and their behavior as adults. But emerging scientific evidence shows that a child's risk of developing cancer starts from before the time of conception. The risk factors are already operating in the mother's eggs before her baby is even conceived.

The study found that whether a mother-to-be smokes, drinks or is overweight all play a key role in whether or not her baby develops certain types of cancer as an adult. According to Professor Ricardo Uauy, an advisor to the United Nations and the World Health Organization who is a professor of public health nutrition at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the study's lead author, puts it this way, "It's not just about if you smoked from the age of 12. But did your mother smoke? What was the water like that she drank? Is she exposed to toxins such as dioxins, which are found in the environment, and did she pass them on to her baby through her breast milk?"

Geesh. Talk about pressure. I'm sure glad that my pregnancy days are behind me and I don't envy moms who are pregnant or trying to conceive today. But one good thing to come from this kind of development is that the more we learn about these kinds of health issues, the better chances we have of preventing them. And since the number one wish for any new mom is the health and happiness of her baby, this translates to good news for everyone.

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