Dr Sally Norton, UK health expert and NHS weight loss consultant surgeon, highlights the importance of your diet during pregnancy
Many mums know that their children’s behaviour can be influenced by what they eat. What we feed our children can either boost or damage their health – it’s our choice.
Now evidence shows that the food a pregnant woman chooses to eat herself may impact her future child’s behaviour. A recent study of over 300 children, who have been extensively researched over 16 years, has suggested that those with ADHD (attention and behavioural problems) were more likely to have been born to mothers who had a poor diet in pregnancy.
What was classed as a poor diet? Higher than average consumption of high-fat and high sugar foods in the form of processed foods (fried food, pasties, crisps, chips etc and confectionery (chocolate, cakes, biscuits). Of course, it can’t be proven that the diet itself was the cause, but the researchers also identified ways in which maternal diet and child behaviour could be linked – making the findings more significant.
We know that maternal diet, smoking and alcohol intake during pregnancy can influence other areas of our baby’s development so this makes sense.
And when you have known the sleepless nights, tantrums and other joys of normal toddlerdom, anything you can do to prevent more severe problems has got to be worth a try. So denying yourself junk food to increase your chances of an angelic toddler (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms!) is a small price to pay.
Plus, a healthy pregnancy is important for the new mum too, of course. It’s no fun trying to look after the new addition to the family if you feel overweight, undernourished and generally exhausted so keeping fit and well during pregnancy benefits both you and your new baby. Remember, in pregnancy, eating for two doesn’t mean a free pass to eat enough food to fill two adults! It means eating enough nutrients for you, and the little one inside who is relying on you for all the vitamins, minerals and other essential building blocks to ensure he or she starts life with a healthy mind as well as a healthy body. Nothing could be more important than that.