Could Diet in Pregnancy Raise Child’s Odds for ADHD?

Pregnancy is such an exciting time during a couples lives. With this excitement also comes new stresses and worries for the expecting mom. Every mom has their baby’s best intentions in mind during pregnancy. They listen intently to the advice of the pediatrician and take those huge prenatal vitamins because they want what is best for the baby. Diet is one of those things that often gets overlooked; however it can be just as important as other things. Researchers have found that eating a high fat and high sugar diet can affect the function of a gene called IGF2. This gene is responsible for brain development and has been linked to the development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This study notes that diet is  not a direct cause and effect.

Key Points:

  • 1Researchers found that a high-fat, high-sugar diet can affect the function of a gene called IGF2 that helps steer fetal development of brain regions previously linked to ADHD.
  • 2However, Barker said the study only shows an association, rather than a direct cause-and-effect. “We do not suggest that a mother’s diet will cause ADHD or conduct problems,” he said. “There are many causes of ADHD and conduct problems, and usually many small influences are at work together, diet being one of them.”
  • 3A bad diet appears to influence the way the IGF2 gene is read and interpreted by cells through a process called DNA “methylation,” Barker said. In methylation, an extra molecule is tacked onto a DNA strand.

Animal research has shown that what a mother eats during pregnancy can change the action of genes important for the development of the brain, but very little is known about the influence of diet during pregnancy on the human brain, he said.

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