October  2002    Vol. 1   No. 10
Teach Your Unborn Healthy Foods

Flavors from a motherís diet during pregnancy and from her breast milk are transferred to her infant and the baby learns to like these foods.  An experiment reported in the journal Pediatrics fed pregnant women and breast-feeding women carrot juice and compared their infants to infants of women who did not consume carrot juice.1   When the children were, on average, 6-months-old they fed them carrot juice and noted their responses.   Infants exposed to carrot juice seemed to like carrot juice more than those who did not get these early learning experiences during pregnancy and breast-feeding.  Flavors from foods appear in the amniotic fluid that the unborn infant floats in and in the motherís breast milk. Since tastes are learned thoughout life it should not be surprising that this early exposure determines what a person will eventually enjoy in foods.

Women and young girls planning a family in the future need to begin thinking about their diet right now.  The pesticides and other environmental contaminants they consume today are stored in their body fat and then released into their baby during pregnancy and breast-feeding.  These chemicals can cause birth defects and miscarriages.2-3  During pregnancy, a motherís choice of calorie-dense foods, so easily obtained on the high-fat, high-sugar Western diet, can make the baby grow too large.  As a result, the 8 to 14 pound newborns commonly seen these days are too big to fit through a birth canal designed for a 5 to 8 pound baby.4 Since they canít get out normally, they have to be taken by Cesarean section Ė this is the primary reason 25% of women deliver by this method.

Now, thanks to this new research we have another important reason for women to make healthy food choices. Motherís decisions at the dinner table while she is directly connected to her baby take on a life-long significance for the childís future health. What an easy way to teach a baby to like his carrots and peas Ė rather than chickens and pigs.

1)  Mennella JA.  Prenatal and postnatal flavor learning by human infants. Pediatrics. 2001 Jun;107(6):E88.

2)  Bevier WC.  Treatment of women with an abnormal glucose challenge test (but a normal oral glucose tolerance test) decreases the prevalence of macrosomia. Am J Perinatol. 1999;16(6):269-75.

3)  Holmes LB.  Fetal environmental toxins. Pediatr Rev. 1992 Oct;13(10):364-9.

4)  Gardella JR.  Environmental toxins associated with recurrent pregnancy loss. Semin Reprod Med. 2000;18(4):407-24.

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2002 John McDougall All Rights Reserved

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