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Maternal Diet Affects Infant’s Long-term Bone Health

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

Mothers-to-be who maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet during pregnancy have children with bigger and stronger bones than women with poorer quality diets. That is the result of a new study by researchers at the University of Southampton.

“Our data add to evidence that environmental influences during intrauterine life alter the trajectory of skeletal development in the offspring,” study presenter Dr. Zoe Cole said.

Researchers looked at the diets of 198 pregnant women and noticed two general patterns. The first was a healthy dietary pattern filled with lots of fruits and vegetables, yogurt, whole wheat bread and breakfast cereals. The second diet pattern was less healthy and included large amounts of foods such as chips and roast potatoes, sugar, white bread, processed meat, tinned vegetables and soft drinks.

Bone assessments of the children made up to the age of nine suggested that consuming a healthy maternal diet was associated with greater bone size and density in the offspring.

“Children born to mothers with the healthiest diets, as identified by in the highest quarter of prudent diet score, during late pregnancy had an 11 percent greater whole body bone mineral content and eight percent great whole body bone area than those born to mothers with the least healthy diet, the lowest quarter of this distribution,” Cole said.

“A healthy diet during pregnancy has long lasting effects on the development of the child’s bones,” Cole said, and this may lower their future risk of osteoporosis, a potentially disabling bone-thinning disease.

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