London: It’s a known fact that a mother’s diet affects her baby’s health, but new studies are showing that these effects are carried out well into adulthood.
The food and drink she consumes, the emotions and stresses she feels, the exercise she takes, and even the job she does — is shared in some fashion with her unborn child.
Project Viva, a Harvard Medical School study of 2,670 pregnant women, which began in 1999, has made some remarkable discoveries.
A mother’s diet affects the chances of her baby’s obesity – and this relationship persists into the child’s adolescent years, reports the Daily Mail.
Stephanie Bayol and her colleagues at the Royal Veterinary College, in London, found that offspring of pregnant mums who were fed junk food were 95 per cent more likely to overeat than those whose mothers had eaten healthy food.
Another experiment showed that children of pregnant women who were fed carrot juice in the third trimester were more likely to like the taste of carrot-flavoured cereal than those who did not.
Sadly the same is true for opposite effects.
Mothers who conceived during the Nazis’ starvation of the Netherlands in 1944 survived on just 400-to-800 calories a day, increasing their babies’ risk for heart diseases and diabetes.
Studies have also shown that how a mother’s psychology can actually affect a baby.
Researchers at Columbia University, in the U.S., asked pregnant mothers to take intelligence tests while their unborn babies were scanned. All the mothers’ heart rates went up as they tried to pass the tests. In women who were depressed or anxious, their foetuses’ heart rates also rose.
“That difference suggests that these foetuses are already more sensitive to stress. It could be that the foetuses’ nervous systems are already being shaped by their mothers’ emotional states,” said Professor Caroline Monk.