Pregnancy Diet and Childhood Obesity Risk
Eating ice cream and other fatty foods during pregnancy could raise your child's chances of becoming obese. A Rockefeller University animal study demonstrated that even short-term exposure to a high-fat diet in utero could prompt genetic fetal changes that dictate an increased appetite, higher fat intake, earlier puberty and a higher body weight later in life.
The offspring of rats fed a 50% fat diet for two weeks during pregnancy were up to 140% more likely to be fat (vs. those whose moms ate a balanced diet during the intervention period). "We're programming our children to be fat," warns study author Sarah Leibowitz. Dietary excess during pregnancy also sets up expectant mothers to gain more than the recommended 25-35 pounds (an overweight woman should gain just 15-25).
This in turn ups the odds of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, congenital malformations -- and the likelihood of your child becoming obese later on in life. Also of concern: entering pregnancy with extra pounds increases the risk of miscarriage by 67%. On the other hand, unwanted pounds may increase your risk of unwanted pregnancy, by undermining the efficacy of hormonal birth control.
In addition to moderating fat intake, eating more fruit and vegetables provide diverse nutrients to help protect your unborn child against diseases. Adequate copper (from shiitake mushrooms, cashews and soybeans) can lower the risk of premature births. Folate sources (beans, spinach, broccoli) are important in preventing neural-tube defects, while getting more choline (from eggs, cauliflower, potatoes) could boost your baby's brainpower much later in life.