Mums who eat a healthy, well balanced diet during pregnancy have children with stronger bones, research shows.
In contrast, mothers with poorer quality diets have children with smaller and less strong bones when measured 9 years after birth.
‘This is the first study to show that mothers can improve their child’s bone development early on by consuming a good diet in the late stages of their pregnancy,’ says Dr Zoe Cole, study author from the University of Southampton.
‘We reach our peak bone mass around our mid twenties so it’s vital that young people accrue strong bone before then.’
Foods that women should be eating a lot of during late pregnancy, to help build children with stronger bones, include: fruit and vegetables; yoghurt; wholemeal bread; and breakfast cereals.
Dr Cole’s team group studied 198 pregnant women whose children were measured at birth and during infancy.
Women whose children had less healthy bones by the age of 9 had eaten a pregnancy diet high in foods such as: chips and roast potatoes; sugar; white bread; processed meat; crisps; tinned vegetables; and soft drinks.
Children born to mothers with the healthiest diets had 11% greater bone calcium content and 8% greater whole body bone area than those born to mothers who had the poorest patterns of dietary intake during the late stages of pregnancy.
Other factors were also found to influence bone health in children: those who drank milk everyday or who played sport outside of school had greater bone strength than those who did not.
‘This study shows the important role that healthy lifestyles can play in bone development, even before the child is born,’ says Nick Rijke, Director of Public and External Affairs for the National Osteoporosis Society.