Pregnant mom’s food choices tied to baby’s body composition

Pregnant women who eat more carbs and fatty foods may not necessarily give birth to heavier babies, but they may still have infants with more fat tissue, a U.S. study suggests.

In particular, women who ate a lot of saturated fats – the kind in meat, dairy and eggs – had babies with more fat mass, regardless of their pre-pregnancy weight, the study found. At the same time, “we found that saturated fat intake was associated with fat mass at birth,” Crume added by email.
To assess the connection between mothers’ diets and babies’ body composition, Crume and colleagues studied 1,040 mother-infant pairs.
At times during each pregnancy, researchers asked the women to recall everything they had
eaten during the previous 24 hours.
The study can’t prove that mothers’ diets actually cause particular body compositions in their babies, the authors note. And the researchers had to rely on women to accurately recall and report what they ate at several points during pregnancy.
Even so, the findings suggest that women should focus on the total calories they consume during pregnancy as long as they eat a reasonably balanced diet, said Dr. Emily Oken, a public health researcher at Harvard University who wasn’t involved in the study.
Women should be especially aware that pregnancy is not a time to literally eat for two, Oken added by email. Just a few hundred extra calories a day might add up to too much food.
“We are learning that healthy gain in early pregnancy is especially important – just a couple of pounds in the first trimester,” Oken said. “Women should aim to gain within the recommended amounts by continuing to exercise regularly and eating a nutrient-dense diet – avoid ‘empty’ calories such as those in sugary beverages, candy, and desserts.”
source: Reuters Health