Maternal gestational diabetes can adversely affect neurodevelopment in 2-year-olds. Meanwhile, new research conducted at the University of Turku reveals that a healthy, holistic diet by mothers supports neurodevelopment in their children.
Maternal health and lifestyle during pregnancy are important regulators of child neurodevelopment. A mother-child study conducted at the University of Turku and the University Hospital of Turku, Finland, examined how a pregnant mother’s gestational diabetes, obesity, and diet affected the neurodevelopment of her 2-year-old infant.
This research project investigated the development of children’s cognitive, verbal and motor skills. Maternal obesity was determined by air displacement plethysmography, and gestational diabetes by oral glucose tolerance test. Dietary intake during pregnancy was assessed with the Dietary Quality Index and the Fish Consumption Questionnaire.
“On average, neurodevelopment in children in our data was within normal limits. showed lower verbal abilities than children without. Lotta Saros From the Institute of Biomedical Research, University of Turku.
Additionally, the study found that higher maternal body fat percentage was associated with lower cognitive, verbal, and motor skills in children.
“Our observations are unique because previous studies have not examined the relationship between maternal body composition and neurodevelopment in children,” Saros said.
Gestational diabetes and obesity, especially high body fat, adversely affect maternal metabolism and increase inflammation in the body. In fact, these are the mechanisms by which harmful factors can affect a child’s neurodevelopment.
Maternal diet during pregnancy may affect child neurodevelopment
The study also found that the higher the quality of the mother’s diet, the better the child’s language development. Similar findings were found between maternal fish consumption and child neurodevelopment.
The results point to the same conclusion that a good diet contains unsaturated fatty acids found in fish and the like. Soft, unsaturated fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, promote neurodevelopment in children.
“A healthy, comprehensive diet during pregnancy is particularly beneficial for neurodevelopment in children whose mothers are at risk for gestational diabetes due to being overweight or obese,” says the professor. Kirsi Laitinen Head of the Early Nutrition and Health Research Group at the University of Turku, which carried out the research.
Maternal obesity, gestational diabetes, and diet associated with neurodevelopment in 2-year-olds
Article publication date
January 3, 2023
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