Pregnancy Dangers and Baby's Metabolism

The HealthGal Health Guide
  • A controversial new study suggests that pregnant women who consume certain levels of sugar-sweetened drinks may be risking pre-term child birth.  The information was collected using three different questionnaires presented to over 60,000 pregnant women.  The data collected seem to indicate that women who drank more than one sweetened beverage daily (sugar-sweetened or artificially sweetened) raised the risk of pre-term delivery before 37 weeks slightly.  One explanation is that these women who were identified as “more than one sweet drink-a-day consumers” may also have had a higher body mass index, lower education levels, smoked, or had other lifestyle habits associated with sweet drink consumption.  Experts do know that what you choose to eat during pregnancy can impact weight gain, health risk factors like hypertension and preeclampsia and also determine certain future health and weight issues in your unborn child.  Though this study is being challenged, it does make sense to emphasize healthy portion-controlled food choices in the months leading up to pregnancy and during pregnancy.  You and baby will benefit.

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    A new study from Johns Hopkins’ scientists suggests that what you and your baby eat after birth may have profound impact on a child’s metabolic behavior and their risk of developing obesity later on.  In the study, pregnant rats were fed high fat diets.  Post birth, one group of the mother rats was fed normal fat diets while nursing the babies, and the baby rats did not develop weight issues or become obese.  Another group of mother rats was fed normal levels of fat during pregnancy and after pregnancy were given a high fat diet while nursing their offspring.  These baby rats did become obese.  This study suggests that despite the new emphasis on mothers eating healthfully before and during pregnancy, the nature of the foods consumed right after birth may have a significant and profound impact on baby’s risk of developing obesity later in life.  It certainly gives hope to the idea that despite unhealthy maternal nutrition, a healthy diet consumed by the mother after birth as she nurses the child or just consistently health food experiences by an infant and growing child may potentially help the child to avoid obesity and other lifestyle diseases like diabetes and heart disease.


    Rat studies do not always translate directly to human outcomes, but researchers did find these results compelling. Since childhood obesity rates are of such concern, public health officials, obstetricians, pediatricians and other health professionals should take note of this study and use the information to create nutrition education opportunities for women considering pregnancy, pregnant women and especially new moms.  Scientists suggest that genetics alone cannot explain the rapid rise in obesity rates.  Prenatal and postnatal nutrition are clearly impactful on the health, weight and disease destiny of mom and baby.  I spend a great deal of time discussing early childhood nutrition and ways to shift family eating choices in my book, The 4 Habits of Healthy Families.

Published On: September 09, 2012