Junk food during pregnancy can harm unborn baby: study

July 1st, 2008 - 1:40 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 1 (IANS) Smoking and drinking in pregnancy are known to harm the baby, but new research indicates that junk food may also sow the seeds of heart disease and diabetes in the unborn. This is the conclusion of researchers at the Royal Veterinary College here who fed female rats a diet of crisps, cheese, muffins and other processed foods throughout pregnancy and lactation.

The offspring, who were overweight at birth, were born with a taste for junk food themselves.

But even when fed a healthy diet, the junk-food babies had a host of medical problems that lasted beyond adolescence into adulthood.

The rats had raised cholesterol and triglyceride levels — both associated with heart disease. Insulin and glucose in the blood were also unusually high, known to be a cause of type-2 diabetes.

And the rats remained significantly fatter than normal with extra fat around the kidneys, another diabetes risk-factor.

The female offspring were particularly badly affected, expressing high levels of glucose and the appetite-promoting hormone leptin making them very prone to obesity.

“It seems that a mother’s diet whilst pregnant and breastfeeding is very important for the long-term health of her child,” said St

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