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Posts Tagged ‘can your diet affect you unborn child’

Okay, okay, so us ladies all live in a world where we try to be healthy and stay slender and as soon as you get pregnant, the fear of being unhealthy and gaining weight can get even scarier.  For example, eat your greens and no more ice cream because it is “bad”.  Ha! 

I hear mom’s all the time ponder whether or not the food they are eating while they are pregnant affects their baby’s tastes and food likes/dislikes. Of course every mom knows it is important to think about what they eat during pregnancy as sharing and teaching their future babies how to eat healthy.

During pregnancy, your baby is fed nutrients through the umbilical cord. At the same time, the amniotic fluid, which surrounds the baby, takes on the flavor of the foods you eat. Even though your baby isn’t technically ingesting the amniotic fluid the way you ingest food, the baby is constantly swallowing it and tasting the same flavors that you do. Thus, as a mommy – you have a huge impact on your child’s palette before its even born!

In addition, if you choose to nurse your child, your breast milk will take on the flavors of the foods you eat. Certain flavors come through stronger than others, such as onion, garlic or mint.  My advice? Try to eat a good variety of foods, and your child will get used to experiencing new flavors on an everyday basis, and will be less resistant in the future to trying new foods when he or she is older.

In a 2001 experiment conducted by Julie Menella, a psychobiologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, a group of pregnant women was asked to drink carrot juice during their third trimester; another group of pregnant women drank water instead. Six months later, the women’s infants were offered cereal mixed with carrot juice, and their facial expressions were videotaped while they ate. The offspring of the carrot juice-drinking women consumed more carrot-flavored cereal than babies who had not been exposed to the stuff before birth, and appeared to like its taste more.

What is interesting is that a mother’s eating habits while the baby is in the womb can correlate to various cultures and their cuisines. For example, certain flavors or tastes of particular foods are most likely introduced before birth and can affect a child’s likes towards certain foods. For example, I am half Chinese and as a baby in the womb I tended to eat Chinese food and not much dairy. Today I am allergic to most dairy products and crave Chinese food (ever since I was born).

Menella stated that “when a baby is born, he is not a blank slate. He has already been shaped by a rich array of sensory experiences that we are only now beginning to understand.”

There is no true verdict on whether your diet during pregnancy can affect your baby’s tendency toward food sensitivities or allergies, but the fairest answer is that we don’t really know for sure. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that mothers at high risk of having an infant with food allergies—women with a family history—consider avoiding peanuts, one of the most highly allergenic of all foods, during the third trimester.

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