Rx Nutrition Resource Center

Rx Nutrition Resource Center

Disclosures: Monthé-Drèze reports receiving support from grant No. 3R01HD034568-17S1. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
May 12, 2021
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Maternal eating habits may affect children’s weight later in life

Disclosures: Monthé-Drèze reports receiving support from grant No. 3R01HD034568-17S1. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
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Maternal nutrition during pregnancy may have a long-term impact on children’s weight trajectories, researchers reported.

Previous studies have largely examined the relationship between a woman’s diet during pregnancy and its impact on offspring BMI trajectories during the neonatal and early-childhood periods, according to Carmen Monthé-Drèze, MD, attending neonatologist in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Brigham Women’s Hospital and an instructor in pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.

Foods that make up the Mediterranean diet
Researchers found a link between maternal diet and children’s growth rates. Photo source: Adobe Stock

Monthé-Drèze and colleagues examined the associations of maternal nutrition based on three diet indices — the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII), the Mediterranean Diet Score and the Alternate Healthy Eating Index-for Pregnancy (AHEI-P) — and offspring growth trajectories during specific periods from birth through adolescence. Their analysis included 1,459 mother-child pairs.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggested that children of women with the highest DII scores, which indicated a pro-inflammatory diet, had higher BMI-z growth rates at ages 3 to 10 years and higher BMI z-scores from ages 7 to 10 years. Additionally, children of women who had low adherence to a Mediterranean diet had higher BMI z-scores from ages 3 to 15 years. The researchers did not find an association between AHEI-P and BMI z-scores from birth through adolescence.

Monthé-Drèze said the findings add to the importance of encouraging healthy eating during pregnancy.

“In particular, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should consider a Mediterranean diet, which may not only benefit their own health, but may also help their child maintain a healthy weight,” she said in the press release.