A pregnant woman is counseled from her first prenatal checkup to eat a healthy balanced diet. A new study has found that this advice may be more important than ever — not just to make sure that her baby gets all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that she needs to grow, but also to minimize her baby's future risk of becoming obese.
The study, conducted by researchers from the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Singapore, compared umbilical cord samples from healthy mothers and babies with the mothers' diets and their children's body fat levels at age 9. They found that a women's diet during early pregnancy can influence the baby's specific DNA regions that tell genes how to perform throughout her life.
So mom's diet not only affects how her baby is growing and developing, it can also change the baby's DNA in such a way that the baby is predisposed to obesity.
Not surprisingly, moms who ate diets lower in vegetables, fruits, and grains were more likely to have babies with subtle changes in their DNA markers that dictate how genes are read and expressed. These children were more likely to be heavier and have higher body fat at age 9 than their peers.
Not to put any more pressure on soon-to-be-moms than necessary, but it sounds like that prenatal advice may be right on target. A pregnant mom needs to eat a healthy nutritious diet for her own health and the health of her growing baby.