High-fat, high-sugar diet during pregnancy linked with high-energy kids

By Shayna Brouker • Published: November 14th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

There are certain foods that pregnant women should avoid, such as sushi, and some they should load up on, like folate-rich spinach. Then there are the random cravings for foods like pickles or fried chicken. But a new study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry suggests women should avoid a high-fat, high-sugar diet, as it may be linked with ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, in their children.

Scientists at King’s College London studied the diets of pregnant women and compared the gene development of their children with behavior problems versus children without such issues. Using blood samples taken either from the children’s umbilical cord at birth or from the child at age 7, the researchers found a connection between moms who ate a high-fat, high-sugar diet — lots of baked goods and processed foods — and ADHD. Such a diet can influence the role of a gene called IGF2 that helps shape fetal development of brain regions previously linked to ADHD. The IGF2 gene helps develop the cerebellum and hippocampus, regions of the brain that have been associated in ADHD, they said.

It’s important to note that ADHD can be hereditary and those with the disorder are more prone to eat compulsively. Combine that factor with pregnancy cravings and you’ve got a recipe for uninhibited eating. More research is needed, but the study underscores the importance of a nourishing, balanced diet during pregnancy and suggests it can lower ADHD symptoms and conduct problems in children.

So help yourself and your unborn child by eating high-protein, brain-healthy foods such as eggs, nuts, cheese and meat. And try to resist those cravings for sweets.