When most women are pregnant, they at least cut out the alcohol and smoking. Some take it a step further and eliminate caffeinated beverages. But cleaning up your diet for the sake of your unborn child should go even further. One recent study suggests mothers who indulge in junk foods are more likely to have children with behavioral and mental health problems, giving us yet another reason to eliminate these foods altogether.
Researchers from Deakin University in Australia looked at the diets of more than 23,000 mothers throughout their pregnancy and the diets of their children at 18 months and 3 years of age. When the children reached 18 months and 3 and 5 years old, mothers were asked to fill out questionnaires as to their child’s mood and behavior, specifically mentioning symptoms of depression, anxiety, conduct disorder, and ADHD.
After analyzing the relationship between a mother’s diet and her child’s diet and behavior, the researchers found that mothers who ate more “junk” foods during pregnancy had children with “increased behavioral problems, such as aggression and tantrums. Junk food, in this study, was such things as sweetened beverages, refined cereals, and other processed foods.
Also, the children who continued their mothers’ dietary habits, eating unhealthy foods in the first years of life or lacking nutrient dense foods like vegetables, also showed increased aggression while displaying more symptoms of anxiety and depression.
According to associate professor Felice Jacka of the study, “It is becoming even more clear that diet matters to mental health right across the age spectrum.”
“These new findings suggest that unhealthy and ‘junk’ foods may have an impact on the risk for mental health problems in children, and they add to the growing body of evidence on the impact of unhealthy diets on the risk for depression, anxiety and even dementia.”
According to other research, both junk food and fast food consumption ignites depression. In fact, the study shows that those consuming fast food are 51% more likely to be depressed than those consuming very little or none of the health-damaging food. What’s more, depression risk was found to increase with the more fast food and junk food consumed.
Providing the best possible foundation of good health for children should be every pregnant mother’s top concern. Similar to how simple dietary changes can ‘fix’ a child’s ADHD, a mother’s diet can do wonders for unborn children. Unfortunately, food makers won’t tell you that their products could have unexpected results on your health, let alone the health of your unborn child.
Loading up on fruits and vegetables, and skipping the highly processed options will not only ensure you are healthy, but will give your baby a fighting chance in this world of imitation food products.