Health Insider Update


Surprising Discovery: Childhood Nutrition Affects Adult Pregnancy

Surprising Discovery: Childhood Nutrition Affects Adult Pregnancy
November 16
10:58 2015

While pregnant and soon-to-be pregnant women know which foods to avoid and which nutrients to seek out, recent research argues that a fetus’s health can also be affected by the mother’s diet during childhood and early adulthood.

“By the time a girl is born, she has all of the eggs that she will have in her lifetime,” – Laura A Coleman, Pediatric Nutrition Scientist.

FIGO_Logo_-_Large_WITH_TEXT_03FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics) guidelines now include the statement that a woman’s diet – throughout her lifetime – can affect her chances of becoming pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. In other words, the bad health choices you made as a child could have an impact on your baby’s health decades later.

Why does a little girl’s diet affect her pregnancy decades later? Because: years and years before you try to put a bun in the over, so to speak, that oven is already built.

“It is possible for egg quality to be impacted by exposures, like nutrition, at any point, from a woman’s own conception and birth to the time she conceives her own children,” explains Coleman.

A girl’s diet can also influence a woman’s risk of:
• Gestational hypertension
• Diabetes during pregnancy
• Early delivery

According to researchers at the University of Nottingham, a girl’s nutrition choices can raise her chances of developing metabolic syndrome during or before pregnancy. The leading causes of this condition are weight gain and poor nutrition. Not only has metabolic syndrome been associated with stroke and Type 2 Diabetes, but also with fertility problems and preeclampsia.

Fionnuala McAuliffe, a professor of gynecology and obstetrics who works at a maternity hospital in Dublin, says that it’s never too late to start making sure your daughter(s) are getting the proper nutrition. According to the new FIGO guidelines, which McAuliffe helped write, these are the six vitamins woman and girls of all ages need for a healthy pregnancy:

1. Iron, which can be found in soybeans, meats, lentils, fortified cereals, and spinach, is essential for a health pregnancy. Did you know that menstrual blood loss can actually cause the body to lose Iron? During pregnancy, a woman needs even more Iron than normal.

2. Iodine can be found in seafood, whole grains, eggs, dairy, and poultry (don’t dump salt on everything to increase your Iodine intake!). A lack of Iodine can lead to poor cognitive development in children.

3. Folate can be found in lentils, whole wheat, beans, asparagus, spinach, and beef. A folate deficiency can lead to birth defects of the spine and brain.

4. B12 is found in animal-based foods like dairy, meat, and eggs. If a mother is low in B12, her baby will be too. B12 deficiencies are most often found in vegans and vegetarians. Over time, a B12 deficiency can lead to neurological problems.

5. Calcium is essential for the bone health of mothers and babies. Without the proper amount of Calcium, women are at a higher risk of developing hypertension during pregnancy. Coleman recommends turning to spinach, dairy, and sardines for Calcium.

6. Vitamin D AKA “the Sunshine Vitamin.” Most of us get ample Vitamin D from the sun, but you might think about taking a supplement during the winter.


About Author

April Kuhlman

April Kuhlman

Related Articles