Every expectant mother knows she’s eating for two, and by that we don’t mean eating double portions. The things that you eat today during your pregnancy can affect not only your baby’s development, but his long-term health. There have been many studies that take a look at the connection between your diet during pregnancy and a variety of long-term health concerns for children. One of the areas that we’re seeing more and more research is in the area of pregnancy nutrition and diabetes.
One recent journal study funded by the National Institutes of Health shows that your nutrition during pregnancy can actually predispose your baby to becoming pre-diabetic even before adolescence.
This study examined 18 baboon primates. They discovered that when one of the mothers was even slightly undernourished during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, their children are much more likely to become pre-diabetic before they reach adolescent. Six baboons had restricted diets, and all six of the young showed traits consistent with a higher rate of pre-diabetes. The 12 mothers who were given adequate nutrition produced children without any pre-diabetic traits.
How exactly does this work? During your pregnancy, your baby’s organs are growing and developing. If you don’t get the kinds of nutrients your baby needs to develop, there can be problems. For example, if the growth of the pancreas is hindered, your baby is going to have a harder time producing insulin. In fact, the pancreas is one of the first organs to experience trouble in development when the mother doesn’t get enough nutrition.
Of course, inadequate nutrition doesn’t guarantee that your baby is going to have diabetes, but it’s certainly not worth the risk. Many factors will go into it after your baby is born, but the bottom line is that, if you can increase the odds your baby will be healthy, you ought to.
Diabetes is one of the fastest-growing diseases around the world. WHO estimates suggest that, by the year 2030, 366 million people will have diabetes. In 2000, that number was closer to 170 million.