Life in the womb helps to predict health of child

Filed under: Your Pregnancy, Health & Safety: Babies, Nutrition: Health

As if harboring another life within our bodies for approximately nine months is not enough of a feat in itself, research indicates that the womb enivironment for that small being could predict a child's well being later in life. It is not enough to merely eat healthy and wait out the gestational period.This is because it is thought that newborn babies have already acquired many characteristics that will determine health in later life. A study in the U.K. examined the effects of the mother's diet, health, and environment before and during pregnancy on the growth and development of the fetus and child. The study also looked at how influences on children in early life and their genetic make-up affect their growth and their later risks of developing heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and respiratory disease. Previous studies from around the world have shown that people who were born small have higher risks in adult life of developing coronary heart disease, diabetes, raised blood pressure and cholesterol, obesity and osteoporosis.

Studies have also shown that the mother's height and weight and what she eats during pregnancy are likely to influence the growth of the fetus and the long-term health of the child. Shorter, thinner women tend to have smaller babies. However, a woman may be small because of poorer nutrition in her life and possibly that of her mother and grandmother. The present study showed that young women's diets vary hugely. Well-educated women tend to eat better and smokers eat less well. Young women eat less well if there are children living in the home. The way in which a woman processes protein in her body during pregnancy also influences her baby's length, and her stores of vitamins and micronutrients affect the baby's development. Mothers with low levels of vitamin D in their blood in pregnancy have babies with weaker bones at birth, with long term implications for the risk of developing osteoporosis and bone fractures in later life.



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