When planning a pregnancy it is important to be proactive. More and more studies are showing the connection between a mother’s (and father’s!) nutrition before conception to not only an infant’s health, but also his or her health when reaching adulthood.
Folic acid is a pregnancy supplement that most people know about, as it is important for preventing neural tube defects. In addition, this nutrient has also been shown to decrease the risk of brain tumour development and prevent early delivery. Vitamin B6 has also been shown to help prevent early pregnancy loss.
There are many studies from all over the world that indicate how important Vitamin D is for life- long health. A study out of Australia showed that low prenatal Vitamin D levels affect fetal bone development and increase adulthood osteoporosis risk. In Scotland, they have studied the link between maternal Vitamin D levels and childhood asthma rates. A low level of Vitamin D in pregnant women was associated with a 3-fold increase of persistent wheezing syndrome in their children at 5 years of age. Other studies have shown that higher Vitamin D intake by pregnant mothers reduces asthma risk by as much as 40% in 3 to 5 year old children. Because of these studies, Slovakia has made Vitamin D supplementation in pregnant women and newborns a standard of care that is paid for by the government.
The Swansea Baby Trial looked at the connection between use of probiotics in late pregnancy and early infancy and allergic conditions. They concluded that the use of specific probiotics reduced the frequency of eczema and rashes due to allergies.
Although many of these nutrients are included in a good quality pre-natal vitamin, it is always a good idea to discuss pre-conception and pre-natal nutrition with your naturopathic physician. Also, be sure to start on a pre-natal vitamin 3-6 months prior to attempting to conceive to ensure your nutrient levels are adequate for the first few weeks post-conception.
Written by Dr. Erika Buckley-Strobel, ND