A woman’s diet, even pre-pregnancy, may have a major impact on their children’s health. A mother’s consumption of high fat dairy may be associated with double the odds of an infant developing the birth defect, hypospadias. Nitrites found in processed meat, advanced glycation end products and heme iron all were found to increase risks for gestational diabetes, itself linked to a higher occurence of birth defects. Contamination with methylmercury in seafood can lead to impaired fetal brain development and is a risk factor for epilepsy. The brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids in fish cannot compensate for the risk of neurological damage due to the presence of mercury. Other pollutants, like alkylphenols found in meat, dairy and seafood, are endocrine disruptors linked to increased risk of birth defects and infertility, as well as of eczema, seasonal allergies and metabolic diseases. The carcinogen DES was once fed to farm animals, a practice that has since been banned.
Topic summary contributed by Laura.