- by Sheetal chhabria
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- Mar 17 2018
LINKS BETWEEN PRENATAL DIET & DIETARY PATTERN IN KIDS
Maternal food consumption provides a crucial context for the formation of dietary attitudes and behaviours in the Progeny. According to Parenting Science, ” A foetus begins swallowing amniotic fluid at around 12 weeks, and by 28 weeks, an unborn baby is developing a powerful sense of smell”. A poor or inappropriate prenatal dietary intake adversely affects a baby’s building blocks, whose by-products cannot be reversed.
What determines the Dietary Pattern in Kids?
An increasing body of research shows that most of our food preferences are learned and this learning begins in the Uterus itself. It is reckoned that at 21 weeks, foetuses can discern full-on flavours using their senses of smell and taste. Julie Mennella of the Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia says, "Amniotic fluid is a complex 'first food' that contains chemicals that have both tastes and smells." Developing flavour awareness five months before most babies start ingesting their calories makes good sense, because when it comes to taste, familiarity breeds fondness. You can train yourself to enjoy most foods through repeated exposure – and the younger you are, the easier it is to mould neural pathways. To put it in lesser complex terms, if a foetus is accustomed to the taste of vegetables in the womb, it is more likely to develop a preference towards nutritional foods.
Diet has been shown to be one of the strongest predictors of childhood food consume
Case Study & Research: Cause & Effect Relationship
Extensive research is being carried out every day to understand what determines our eating habits and the reason could be traced back to our mother’s pregnancy diet. According to the Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Centre, a Philadelphia based non-profit research organization, humans have a “food addiction model”, similar to drug dependence, where they show heightened impulsivity, a flattening of reward sensitivity, and a problem with impulse control manifested through their response to food. Research has shown that a mother’s diet during pregnancy may also play a role in these types of behaviour’s, affecting the dopamine and opioid reward circuitry in the offspring, potentially leading them to choose more calorie-dense foods to gain the same pleasure and reward from eating.
“It’s our fundamental belief that during evolution, we as humans are exposed to flavours both in utero and via mother’s milk that are signals of things that will be in our diets as we grow up and learn about what flavours are acceptable based on those experiences,” said Gary Beauchamp, the director of the Monell Centre. “Infants exposed to a variety of flavours in infancy are more willing to accept a variety of flavours, including flavours that are associated with various vegetables and so forth and that might lead to a more healthy eating style later on.”
Another study conducted at the FoodPlus research centre at the University of Adelaide, South Australia shows that exposure to a maternal junk food diet leads to children with a propensity for similar diet. “In a rodent model, the study found that being exposed to too much junk food in utero and through breast milk leads offspring to develop a reward pathway in the brain that is less sensitive than normal. Mothers who were fed foods like Froot Loops, Cheetos and Nutella during pregnancy had offspring that showed increased expression of the gene for an opioid receptor, which resulted in a desensitization to sweet and fatty foods.”
SO, does your mother’s diet affect you?
Maternal diet has a perennial role to play in shaping your kids eating habits. Over indulgence and an unhealthy intake of food while pregnant, can have long lasting consequences that become evident in the future in the form of obesity, allergies, eating disorders, reduced cognitive abilities and other behavioural and social disorders. Expecting mother’s need to take a mindful approach towards their diet as what happens in the womb does not stay in the womb.
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