A recent report has warned that a woman’s diet and lifestyle before and during pregnancy can increase the risk of her baby suffering from disease as an adult.
The British Nutrition Foundation’s task force report, Nutrition and Development: Short- and long-term consequences for health, examined nutrition while in the womb and infant dietary habits and the impact that these have on health in the long term. It was found that there are periods of fetal and early life development where the balance of nutrients is particularly important, and the researchers referred to these as ‘critical windows’ in development where a child’s future health can be ‘programmed’.
Encouraging women to make positive changes to their diet and lifestyle during pregnancy can benefit their child’s future health in areas such as asthma, allergies, obesity and brain development, as well as having an affect on birth weight.
Sara Stanner, science programme manager at the British Nutrition Foundation, explained: ‘While environment and lifestyle factors may play a part, there is now unequivocal evidence of the biological link between the health status of women and conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in their children in later life.
‘There is strong evidence that excessive intake of vitamin A2 or insufficient consumption of folate/folic acid3 have clear developmental impacts on unborn children. However, fetal growth and development may also be affected by more subtle variations in nutrition during “critical windows”.’
To read more about the task force report go here