Optimal nutrition for both mother and child is critical for a successful pregnancy -- from prior to conception forward to several years after birth. Optimal nutrition helps to avoid pregnancy complications and reduces the risk that your future child will develop chronic diseases as an adult.
You've probably heard about the need for adequate folate (a B vitamin) to prevent birth defects. Possibly you have heard that iron or B12 deficiencies might impair proper fetal development. Or that certain omega-3 fats are necessary for your baby's brain development.
You probably haven't heard of the possible importance of vitamin D adequacy for creating a healthy child. For example, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California has just reported an association between vitamin D deficiency and autism. They said: "Supplementation with vitamin D and tryptophan is a practical and affordable solution to help prevent autism."
But it's not just vitamin deficiencies we need to be thinking about. What about environmental insults that could adversely affect a developing baby? In past newsletters, we've spoken about common pollutants such as cosmetics, certain medications or recreational drugs, petrochemicals, pesticides, flame retardants, etc. as risks to a fetus. To a limited extent, prenatal nutrient supplementation can help you and baby deal with these problems.
And here's another possible reason for making sure your prenatal nutrition is optimized. A good prenatal formula will contain antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, selenium, etc. The body uses antioxidants to neutralize "oxidant stress", which is a poorly controlled biological process that causes cell dysfunction and death.
Oxidant stress is caused by a multitude of environmental factors, ranging from French fries to cigarette smoke. But most causes of oxidant stress are beyond awareness.
Take the Internet wireless network in your home or office or local coffee shop as an example. Could that be a potential problem? Suleyman Demirel University in Turkey published a study in January showing that pregnant mother rats exposed to a 2450 MHz electromagnetic field (wireless internet frequency) for one hour per day had female offspring that were different from the offspring of unexposed mother rats. The exposed baby female rats matured more slowly and showed oxidant stress in their brains and ovaries. They also had higher levels of luteinizing hormone (as do women with PCOS). The unexposed rats had none of these problems.
It's hard to believe that seemingly "safe" and harmless things like radiation from a wireless network could increase oxidant stress and thus affect fetal development and how the baby turns out. You would think the Environmental Protection Agency is protecting you and your future baby from any and all risks. But that just isn't the case.
In summary, there are a multitude of external factors that might increase your need for nutrient supplementation while you're pregnant.
From what we've seen, we would agree with a report from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University that said: "Supplementation with multiple micronutrients during pregnancy may result in improved pregnancy and infant outcomes."
Of course, you should always consult with your healthcare practitioner about taking any supplements if pregnant or contemplating a pregnancy.
Patrick RP et al, Vitamin D hormone regulates serotonin synthesis. Part 1: relevance for autism, FASEB J. 2014 Feb 20. [Epub ahead of print].
Jacobsen R et al, The influence of early exposure to vitamin D for development of diseases later in life.BMC Public Health. 2013 May 28;13:515.
Sangun O et al, The effects of long-term exposure to a 2450 MHz electromagnetic field on growth and pubertal development in female Wistar rats.Electromagn Biol Med. 2014 Jan 24. [Epub ahead of print]
Ramakrishnan U et al, Effect of multiple micronutrient supplementation on pregnancy and infant outcomes: a systematic review. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2012 Jul;26 Suppl 1:153-67.
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