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    Pregnancy and Diet

    By Margarita Nahapetyan

    There is a huge number of children in the United States that recently have been classified as obese and diagnosed with obesity-related diseases, such as type -2 diabetes, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), and the weight of an obese child's mother during pregnancy.

    One of the new studies has found that the diet of a pregnant woman has direct affect on the fetal health. Scientists at Oregon Health and Science University, Beaverton, and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora conducted their study on both lean and obese macaque monkeys. During pregnancy, one group of monkeys was on a normal healthy diet, while the other group consumed a diet high in saturated fats. Upon delivery, the offspring's health was examined. The researchers discovered that offsprings of mothers chronically consuming a high-fat diet had an increased risk of developing NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease). At the same time, if same mothers were being fed a low-fat diet during their subsequent pregnancy, the second offspring showed fewer signs of NAFLD. Therefore, a healthy maternal diet becomes very important, no matter whether mother is lean or obese. Every expecting mother need to be responsible for what she eats in order to protect a developing foetus. It doesn't mean that fat should be completely eliminated from the diet, just the nutrition needs to be well-balanced.

    "Many Americans assume that being fat during pregnancy equates as being unhealthy for the baby and being skinny results in a healthy pregnancy; however, that is not necessarily true" said Kevin Grove, a lead author o the study, a scientist at Oregon National Primate Research Center, Division of Neuroscience. "Our research suggests that consumption of a diet high in saturated fats during pregnancy in both obese and lean individuals may be linked to the increase in fatty liver disease in children."

    NAFLD is a fatty inflammation of the liver in people who do not intake alcohol at all. For all of us alcohol consumption is always associated with a liver-damaging inflammation in adults, but the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects both adults and children. Overweight people are susceptible to it the most. The disease is characterized by conditions, such as general discomfort, weakness, an abdominal pain mostly in the upper right quadrant. In critical cases, the condition might lead to a complete failure of liver.

    Another research found that children whose mothers are on a high-fat diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding, have better chance to become obese as adults and hit puberty early. This study was conducted by scientists at the Liggins Institute of the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and presented at the 90th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society, in San Francisco.

    In this case, researches conducted their experiments on female rats who were fed either a normal or a high-fat diet throughout pregnancy and lactation. Later on the weaned offsprings of these rats were fed either a high-fat or a normal diet themselves. Those offsprings whose mothers were on a high-fat diet reached puberty much sooner than those whose mothers ate a healthy diet, regardless of what the rats themselves were eating. "A high-fat diet after birth did not make the early-onset puberty any earlier," lead author of the study Deborah Sloboda said. "This might suggest that the fetal environment in high-fat fed mothers plays a greater role in determining pubertal onset than childhood nutrition." Early onset of puberty is connected with a greater risk of obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes, as well as it leads to teenage depression, and adult breast cancer.

    Being very overweight during pregnancy is another problem that increases chances of life-threatening illness or complications both for a woman and her child. Some reports indicate it may even increase the risk of a woman dying during pregnancy or childbirth. Women need help to manage their weight before and during pregnancy as it puts a lot of strain on the body. Women who are extremely overweight are also more likely to need a caesarean operation, to have heavy bleeding throughout or after the labor, and have more chance of getting an infection after a C-section.

    Here are some of the problems that are more common for pregnant women who are obese:

    • Miscarriage in early pregnancy
    • Diabetes in pregnancy
    • Dangerously high blood pressure
    • Blood clots

    Though pregnancy is a joy and can be lots of fun, it also is a lot of work. Everyone knows that pregnant moms-to-be must not eat or drink certain things. And that they need to eat only foods that are healthy. Of course, it is very hard and, sometimes almost impossible to deny oneself something that you really crave for, but women really need to understand that, first of all, it might be a big no-no for the unborn child's health, and secondly, anything over the recommended 25-35 pounds in pregnancy is going to be theirs to lose after the baby is born. So, it is best to have a healthy weight right at the start, so the body is better able to deal with pregnancy. If women weigh themselves at least once a week, it might help them understand how good their choices in food are. It is also important to make sure women visit all their antenatal appointments and checks. These appointments help doctors find and understand any problems early, before they become serious.

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