A look at the effects of nutrition during pregnancy to the growth and development of a child

Eating a poor diet not only affects development during pregnancy, but it could also have negative effects on the future health and well-being of the baby. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that, on average, pregnant women should consume 2, to 2, calories daily, increasing their intake gradually as pregnancy progresses. A study published in May in "Biology of Reproduction" describes the negative effects of poor maternal nutrition on growth and development of the fetus. Human babies with low birth weight are more likely to develop problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and neurological problems later in life, according to this study.

A look at the effects of nutrition during pregnancy to the growth and development of a child

Regnault 2 Janna L. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution CC-BY license http: This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Maternal nutrition during pregnancy, and how this impacts placental and fetal growth and metabolism, is of considerable interest to women, their partners and their health care professionals.

In developing countries, maternal undernutrition is a major factor contributing to adverse pregnancy outcomes. Conversely, with the increased prevalence of high calorie diets and resulting overweight and obesity issues in developed countries, the impact of this overnutrition situation upon pregnancy outcome is highlighted as a contributing factor for adverse metabolic outcomes in offspring later in life.

Further, while low or excessive food intake per se is an important aspect of pregnancy development, the specific role that the placenta plays in nutrient metabolism and overall nutrient supply to the fetus in situations of undernutrion, overnutrition or poor diet composition is still poorly defined.

Both epidemiology and animal studies now highlight that undernutrition, overnutrition, and diet composition negatively impact fetoplacental growth and metabolic patterns, having adverse later life metabolic effects for the offspring.

This issue aims to highlight new research in a number of these abovementioned areas across the early life course. A great deal of data now highlights the periconceptional period as a critical period upon which insults may generate later life physiological and metabolic changes in the resulting offspring.

In the review submitted by Padhee and colleagues [ 1 ], the procedures of ARTs are examined, specifically in terms of how common procedures associated with the handling and preparation of gametes and embryos may impact later life metabolism, particularly impacting offspring cardiometabolic health.

These later life defective metabolic effects are also understood to be established during pregnancy. In surveying preconceptional women, pregnant and lactating women and women of reproductive age, Cuervo et al. Poor maternal nutritional intake after the periconceptional period during pregnancy can also negatively impact fetal genetic growth trajectory and can result in fetal growth restriction.

In addition to maternal nutrient supply, the effectiveness of the placenta in transporting nutrients and oxygen to the fetus is important in determining fetal growth.

A look at the effects of nutrition during pregnancy to the growth and development of a child

A range of adaptations to placental development occur when the fetus is growth restricted and these are described by Zhang et al. Regardless of the cause of low birth weight, Zheng et al.

Wood-Bradley and team provide a review of the literature surrounding the potential mechanisms by which maternal nutrition focusing on malnutrition due to protein restriction, micronutrient restriction and excessive fat intake influences offspring kidney development and thereby function in later life [ 8 ].

In the same light, Blumfield et al. Furthermore, Colon-Ramos and colleagues investigated the potential association between maternal dietary patterns during pregnancy and birth outcomes in a diverse population with a historically high burden of low birth weight and other adverse birth outcomes [ 10 ].

Experiences in the perinatal period also play a key role in defining how offspring respond to stress es in postnatal life. To this point, Tsuduki and colleagues report upon the impact a high fat diet during mouse lactation, where it appears to increase the susceptibility of later life obesity induced through postnatal social stress [ 11 ].

This paper highlights the importance of understanding how an early life environment predisposes offspring to potential detrimental responses to postnatal adverse situations. In a review by Dunlop et al.

While meeting dietary guidelines is important, overall maternal health status also plays a pivotal role in determining fetal nutrient supply. In situations of maternal disease, such as infection with human immunodeficiency virus HIVthe ability of the mother to consume sufficient substrates to maintain herself and meet fetal demands is often compromised.

In situations of HIV, resting energy expenditure is increased and the disease may limit dietary intake and reduce nutrient absorption, in addition to influencing the progression of HIV disease as reported by Ramlal and colleagues [ 13 ]. Their study described typical diets of HIV-infected, pregnant Malawian women and highlighted that poor quality maternal diets should be enhanced to meet demands of this particular group of pregnant women, vulnerable to both HIV and malnutrition.

While deficiencies in nutrition during pregnancy can result in adverse offspring outcomes, once pregnant, maternal weight gain during and after pregnancy are critical issues for maternal and fetal health as well.The Effects of Poor Nutrition on a Fetus.


by FRANCINE JUHASZ Aug. 14, acid and essential fatty acids are critical during pregnancy in order to prevent neural tube defects and poor brain development, respectively. Lose Weight. Feel Great! Anorexia During Pregnancy & the Effects on the Child 5.


The mother’s nutritional intake before, during and after pregnancy influences their child’s immediate and long-term mental development and performance.

The greatest brain growth occurs between the 3 months before birth and 2 years of age. Eating a nutritious diet during pregnancy is linked to good fetal brain development, a healthy birth weight, and it reduces the risk of many birth defects. Nutritional shortages during pregnancy and in the early years of life may promote obesity by causing metabolic changes in how energy is used and stored.

13 Brain development may also play a role. Irregular eating patterns can disrupt brain networks involved in energy regulation and hunger signals. Nutrition During Pregnancy and Breast-Feeding.

A complete balanced diet to support healthy fetal growth and development is required for the nutritional demands of pregnancy.

Facts for Life - Nutrition and growth

Maternal nutrition determines birth weight outcomes as well.6 Low-protein diets are associated with . If a woman is malnourished during pregnancy or if her child is malnourished during the first two years of life, the child's physical and mental growth and development will be slowed.

This cannot be corrected when the child is older – it will affect the child for the rest of his or her life.

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