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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Colorado Research: Food Choices in Pregnancy Help Determine Baby’s Body Composition

In a study led by Dr. Tessa Crume, epidemiologist at the Colorado School of Public Health, investigators found that women who ate a high amount of saturated fat had babies with more fat mass. Their findings suggest that the total amount of calories consumed has a larger effect on a baby’s weight than calorie source.

In assessing the relationship between a mother’s diet and a baby’s body composition, researchers studied 1,040 mother-infant pairs.

Throughout pregnancy, researchers documented mothers’ diets in 24-hour periods. They also collected data concerning the babies’ length, weight, head circumference, and body fat composition.

Differences in nutrient proportions did not correlate to differences in the babies’ birth weight. However, there were differences in fat mass, the study found.

A 100-calorie-a-day increase in saturated fat in a mother’s diet corresponded to an 11-gram increase in fat mass in her baby; a 100-calorie increase in unsaturated fat corresponded to a 6-gram increase in fat mass; and a 100-calorie increase in carbohydrates equated to 3-gram increase in fat mass.

It is important to recognize that a mother’s diet does not cause a particular body composition in her baby, noted researchers, but it can help shape it.

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