You’ve got a lot to thank your mum for… but there may be some things you wish you hadn’t inherited from her.
It’s not just her height and hair colour your mum can pass down when you are born. You’re more likely to suffer from certain conditions if they run in her family (or your dad’s), and her health during pregnancy can also have an impact on your future wellbeing. Here’s how:
SMOKE’S NO JOKE
Women who smoke while pregnant are more likely to have children with breathing problems. Kids of smokers can have smaller airways, and tend to wheeze as a result. They may also have damaged lungs and a lighter weight at birth.
NO TIME TO DIET
Mums-to-be who go on a diet when they’re expecting can put their babies at risk if they are not getting adequate vitamins and minerals.
Their unborn child needs these important nutrients to develop properly. Meanwhile, high-protein diets are best avoided when pregnant, according to researchers at a UK university who studied the effects of the Atkins diet on expectant mothers. Their study showed that people whose mothers ate a high-protein diet during pregnancy had higher blood pressure and were more vulnerable to stress as adults – both of which are risk factors for heart disease.
Being stressed out can be bad for an unborn baby, as well as its mum. University of Pennsylvania researchers have found that stress hormones can cross via the placenta to a foetus, altering levels of a protein that affects brain development. As a result, the baby may have a greater risk of a neurodevelopmental disorder, such as autism or schizophrenia. Boys have a higher risk than girls, according to the scientists.
DON’T EAT FOR TWO
Several studies show that women who pile on the pounds when pregnant are more likely to have children with a high BMI, larger waistlines, raised blood pressure and increased levels of insulin and fat in their blood.
But there is some good news:
Babies whose mothers exercised during pregnancy have been found to have healthier hearts than other infants. A US study tested the heart rates of one-month-old babies and noted that those whose mothers had done regular exercise had slower heart rates, considered to be a sign of good heart health.
ASK YOUR MUM
IS THERE A FAMILY HISTORY OF ANY OF THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS?
• Heart disease
• High blood pressure
• High blood cholesterol
• Kidney disease
• Mental illness
• Muscular disorders
• Neurological disorders
• Fertility problems
If she says yes, it could mean you’re at a greater risk of developing one of these conditions.