By: Diana Barnes-Brown for Uterus1
Some mothers are urged by friends and family to “keep their strength up” by eating what they want during pregnancy, bolstered by the belief that loading up on rich foods will lead to rosy infants and children. Others decide that decadence is in order to balance out the difficulties of nine months of pregnancy.
|Eating for Two:|
Increase your caloric intake to provide for your growing baby. A normal increase is an extra 300 calories per day. (a plain baked potato has 120 calories)
Drink plenty of water, it is necessary to carry nutrients to the baby.
Do not restrict your diet. A restrictive diet will not give your developing baby the protein, vitamins and minerals it needs to grow healthy and strong.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine – both are harmful to baby.
Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor nutrition-related questions and for assistance in developing a healthy eating plan.
But new information shows that mothers’ diets during pregnancy can have long-term effects for their children. New research has shown that mothers’ diets during pregnancy potentially predispose children to health problems such as low birth weight, diabetes and obesity.
Researchers at the University of Florida Health Science Center recently released the preliminary findings of a research study examining the effects of fetal nutrition – a direct result of what moms eat during pregnancy – on the development of certain health problems later in life.
“Malnutrition is a major cause of babies being born small around the world,” said Dr. Donald Novak M.D., a professor of pediatric gastroenterology at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine. “There is a lot of evidence that when infants are born small, compared with their counterparts, they have a higher risk” of certain disorders.
One explanation that has been proposed is that what mothers eat during pregnancy can actually change the function of certain genes in their children by flooding developing fetuses with certain nutrients while withholding others.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academies Societies in Washington, D.C. The University of Florida team presented their preliminary findings from animal studies that show maternal diets high in protein can increase the likelihood of insulin resistance, a precursor state for diabetes, in grown animals. Researchers also presented data showing that protein deprivation in rats is linked to the development of larger body types, and that the trait was seen two generations after the dietary practice took place.
The UF team’s findings may challenge nutrition practices for premature and babies who had suffered from slowed growth in the womb. These babies are generally treated with high protein diets in order to catch up to their normal-sized counterparts. Also, babies who are fed formula have higher protein intake levels than breast-fed babies. The long-term results of these practices have yet to be determined, however.
Josef Neu M.D., a professor of pediatrics at UF College of Medicine, noted that babies fed formula tend to suffer from obesity more frequently when they get older, and that this may have something to do with higher rates of Type 2 diabetes that have been seen in recent years.
While it is too early to make solid predictions based on the UF researchers’ findings, more research is planned to help medical scientists such processes in greater detail. “Mechanisms by which dietary intake alters both the modification and expression of genes, the ‘critical periods’ during pregnancy and early life during which these modifications may occur, and the mechanisms by which such changes are propagated from generation to generation,” said Novak, “are critical issues if effective therapies are to be defined.”
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