The New York Times this week published an animal study examining foods eaten during a rats pregnancy and nursing and its possible affect on the age that their offspring starts puberty. For girls, an early first menstrual period has been linked to complications later in life such as breast cancer, obesity, and insulin resistance and is associated with teenage depression.
Researcher from the University of Auckland conducted a study in which they fed pregnant rats two different diets and continued the feedings though lactation. One group received a high-fat diet while the other group received a regular diet. After the babies were weaned from their mothers, they also consumed a high-fat or regular diet.
The researchers noticed those rats whose mothers consumed a high-fat diet had a much earlier onset of puberty, despite the diet the babies ate. Also, babies that ate a high-fat diet had an early puberty (even if their mothers ate a regular diet). Deborah Sloboda, lead author of the study, concluded with “This might suggest that the fetal environment in high-fat fed mothers plays a greater role in determining pubertal onset than childhood nutrition”.
Easily said, a high-fat diet may be linked to early puberty. A diet high in fat is linked to numerous health complications, but knowing this information is very important for expecting mothers. The truth is you are making decisions about yours and your baby’s health. While pregnant and lactating, it is imperative to provide your child with the best and healthiest food choices. For specifics, consult a Registered Dietitian (RD) in your area or ask your physician for a RD that specializes in pregnancy and lactation nutrition.