According to the Mayo Clinic, when pregnant, the general principles of healthy eating remain the same.



A new study, published in the journal
Cell, studied how a woman’s diet when pregnant can alter her baby’s brain.  A team of researchers at Yale University and the Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research in Germany used a mouse model to study how consuming a high-fat diet would impact the baby’s brain.  They found that such a diet could change the way the baby’s brain functions, particularly with respect to insulin signaling.

According to BBC News Health, this could explain why the children of obese parents are more likely to become grossly overweight.  However, while the study has some merit, there are a number of other factors.  For example, shared eating habits are a major factor, which explains why obesity runs in families even if there is no change to the brain.  Additionally, there is evidence that a poor diet while pregnant can alter the DNA of the child, increasing his or her waistline.  However, this does not mean that the signaling functions in the brain have changed.

The biggest limitation of the study is the use of the mouse model, reports NPR.  While it is important to identify such a change in mice, there is nothing to confirm that this translates to the human brain.  However, it is remarkable to see that the mice with mothers that had high-fat diets had different metabolic profiles than children of those who did not.  Researchers concluded that the pups whose mothers ate a high-fat diet while they were in utero had impaired connections in brain neurons that regulate glucose and help control when they are hungry and full and how fat gets broken down.

The Mayo Clinic explains that, when pregnant, the general principles of healthy eating remain the same.  An expectant mom should get plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein.  However, a few nutrients in a pregnancy diet deserve special attention.  For example, pregnant women should get 800 mg of folate or folic acid every day before conception and throughout pregnancy.

Folate is a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects, which are serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. Lack of folate in a pregnancy diet may also increase the risk of low birth weight and preterm delivery. The synthetic form of folate found in supplements and fortified foods is known as folic acid.  Fortified cereals are great sources of folic acid. Leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, and dried beans and peas are good sources of naturally occurring folate.