The Dangers of Poor Eating Habits During Pregnancy and Early Childhood: A Study Highlights the Need for a Balanced Diet to Support Healthy Development

The potential impact of an expectant mother’s poor diet on the fetus’ health

A recent study from the University of Turku highlights the concerning eating habits of expectant mothers. Specialist researcher Ella Koivuniemi explains that an unhealthy diet during pregnancy can increase the fetus’s susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases later in life. Expectant mothers are recommended to consume five servings of plant products per day, but only half of the women in the study met this recommendation. Moreover, a third of the women did not consume vegetables daily.

Koivuniemi emphasizes the importance of pregnant women receiving enough nutrients to support the growth and development of the fetus, as well as their own tissues and placenta. Vegetables, fruits, and berries are rich in fibers, vitamins, minerals, and folic acid, which is crucial in preventing birth defects. However, simply taking a folic acid supplement may not be enough; it should also be obtained through food. A severe lack of folic acid in the fetus can lead to neural tube closure disorder, which can cause developmental disorders.

During pregnancy, both the mother and fetus try to adapt to their environment, which can impact the child’s later life. For example, a mother’s obesity and poor nutrient intake can affect the fetus’s metabolism, increasing the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes later in life. Epigenetic regulation, which modifies the phenotype of the fetus without changing its DNA, plays a role in this process.

The study also examined the eating habits of children under school age and found that most children did not consume enough vegetables and fruits. Only one percent of children ate

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