It’s not always easy to understand how something that happened to your mother before you were born can have a long-lasting influence on your life.
Emily Oken, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School and physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, spends a lot of time trying to understand how something that happened early in life can play out when the child is born and grows older. In this video, she shares with us what she’s learned through her research with pregnant women.
Watch this video to understand:
- Why it is that what a pregnant woman is exposed to matters for her baby’s long-term health.
- How factors such as what a mother eats, how much weight she gains while pregnant, and if she smokes can program the appetite of a child, how much fat the fetus gains, and the amount of body fat the child gains later in life
During pregnancy, a mother's environment can have a significant impact on the health of her unborn child. This is because the fetus is developing rapidly and is highly susceptible to environmental factors. These factors can program the child's appetite, metabolism, and overall health, affecting their risk for obesity, diabetes, and other health problems later in life.
One critical factor is a mother's diet. Studies have shown that a high-fat, high-sugar diet during pregnancy can increase a child's risk of obesity and other health problems later in life. On the other hand, a healthy and balanced diet can promote healthy growth and development in the fetus. It is essential for pregnant women to consume a variety of foods from all food groups and avoid processed and sugary foods.
Maternal weight gain is another crucial factor that can impact a child's long-term health. Studies have shown that excessive weight gain during pregnancy can increase a child's risk of obesity and other health problems later in life. On the other hand, inadequate weight gain can increase the risk of preterm birth and other complications. Pregnant women should aim for a healthy weight gain based on their pre-pregnancy weight and body mass index.
Smoking during pregnancy is also harmful to a child's long-term health. Studies have shown that smoking during pregnancy can increase the risk of preterm birth, low birth weight, and other health problems for the child. Pregnant women should avoid smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke.
In summary, a pregnant woman's environment can significantly impact her unborn child's long-term health. It is essential for pregnant women to maintain a healthy diet, gain an appropriate amount of weight, and avoid smoking to promote healthy growth and development in the fetus.