Impact of Maternal Diet during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding on Infant Metabolic Programming
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1. The research under analysis entitled “Impact of Maternal Diet during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding on Infant Metabolic Programming: A Prospective Randomized Controlled Study” is devoted to the influence of food a mother consumes during pregnancy on her child’s health in the future. The authors of the study hypothesized that balanced and controlled diet along with dietary counseling had a positive impact on the general state of a newborn. Moreover, they presupposed that diet during breastfeeding, especially in the first six months of infant’s life, also influenced the child’s metabolic status (Aaltonen et al., 2011, p. 10). The scientists justified the reasons for conducting it, i.e. they provided a rationale for the research. This is the first aspect that makes the results of the study to be trusted. The rationale is as follows. Aaltonen et al. (2011) indicate that modern pace of life in industrialized countries leads to many serious problems relating to metabolism such as obesity and high blood pressure. These conditions are reported to influence one’s health since the very birth and result in high morbidity and mortality rates. Many researchers prove that the child’s state of health is closely interconnected with the mother’s food intake (Aaltonen et al., 2011, p. 10). Since the researches rarely focus on the connection of the mother’s diet with other factors such as the influence of probiotics, Aaltonen et al. (2011) decided to determine connection between the child’s metabolic status and the woman’s diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
2. The objective of the study proceeds from the scientists’ hypothesis and evaluation of literature, which became the basis for the rationale behind the research. Having estimated that there was a possibility of direct connection between the infant’s metabolism and mother’s nutrition, the authors of the article set the objective to evaluate the relation between woman’s diet and child’s health. Moreover,they decided to estimate the impact of mother’s intensive dietary counseling during gestation on the future child’s metabolism.
3. Trying to achieve their aim, Aaltonen et al. (2011) conducted a quantitative research on three groups: control/placebo, diet/probiotics, and diet/placebo groups. The last two groups had dietary counseling. Overall, 256 women, clients of a clinic in Southwest Finland, participated in the study. Before conducting the research, the scientists excluded all participants with any chronic conditions, except allergy, so that they could not influence results of the tests and relevant conclusions. The research started from the first trimester of women’s pregnancy. The probiotics used included Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and Bifidobacterium lactis (Aaltonen et al., 2011, p. 10). The counseling was aimed at reducing women’s low fiber and excessive saturated fat consumption. Women were given pieces of advice on their nutrition repeatedly as they had consultations with specialists. After the delivery, their consumption was controlled through three-day food diaries. Women attended the hospital at least three times during the pregnancy (at around 14, 24, and 34 weeks) and once together with their children six months after the childbirth. Mother’s food intake was controlled during the three visits to the clinic via evaluation of the diaries’ evidence with the help of household measurements (Aaltonen et al., 2011, p. 12). In addition to this, during every visit, height, weight, fasting plasma glucose concentration, and blood pressure were measured. Infants underwent physical examination right after birth and once in six months after birth. In order to evaluate the child’s metabolic status, the researchers chose “serum 32-33 split proinsulin, intact proinsulin and adiposity-derived hormones, leptin and adiponectin” as metabolic markers (Aaltonen et al., 2011, p. 12).
4. Having done the tests, the scientists evaluated the evidence and obtained results. Since the authors of the articles excluded all obvious factors that could influence the test outcomes (race, level of education, and others), the final data they acquired could be trusted. Thus, Aaltonen et al. (2011, p. 14) found out that all children were healthy. However, the researchers estimated that higher split proinsulin concentration could be associated with lower child’s birth weight, which was largely determined by the mother’s diet. They also found out that diet counseling, as well as placebo and probiotics, resulted in lower risks of split proinsulin concentration. Moreover, the study proved that breastfed children had lower chances of high leptin/adiponectin ratio than formula-fed babies.
5. The evidence acquired from the research led scientists to the following conclusions. First, there is a direct connection between mother’s diet and infant’s birth weight and health. Second, balanced diet and diet counseling have a significant positive influence of the child’s metabolic status. Third, mother’s eating habits have an impact on the baby’s blood pressure level. Fourth, the researchers found that woman’s dietary control could help prevent serious metabolic health risks during the child’s critical and sensitive periods of life (pregnancy and first months after birth) (Aaltonen et al., 2011, p. 15). Fifth, balanced maternal diet along with probiotics can improve woman’s glucose metabolism up to one year after a child is born. Thus, women should avoid consumption of low fiber and high saturated fats as they have negative influence on the health of their children and their own health. Sixth, intake of products with unsaturated fatty acids improves insulin sensitivity (Aaltonen et al., 2011, p. 15). Seventh, higher consumption of fiber can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes mellitus. Finally, child’s high split proinsulin and leptin/adiponectin ratio can be prevented by prolonged breastfeeding. Along with this, the researchers claim that breastfeeding protects a child against obesity and metabolism problems.