The National Institutes of Health released a statement a couple days ago about some recent research conducted in Germany linking gestational diabetes and increased risk of ADHD. They further went on to make a statement about how breast feeding can be curative in decreasing the risk of ADHD.
“…The German study found that children born to mothers who developed high blood sugar during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) were almost twice as likely to have ADHD as children born to mothers without gestational diabetes. ‘This study found interesting associations that have public health implications,’ said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York, in New Hyde Park, N.Y. ‘The U.S. is experiencing an increasing epidemic of obesity, which is a risk factor for gestational diabetes. We need to be mindful of the broader implications of these unfortunate trends. They won't just have an impact on the mother's health, but can also affect the offspring,’ Adesman said. The good news from this study is they found that breast-feeding appeared to be protective. Children who were breast-fed were almost 20 percent less likely to develop ADHD, according to the study…”
I don’t usually pay too much heed to correlational statements as we don’t really know the details between behaviors and consequences until we know with scientific data. I was raised in graduate school to believe that without concrete data, we are only making more strongly informed guesses. However, when it comes to the brains of our babies, I believe we have the obligation to heed all warnings. We only have one shot at creating strong baby brains, the nine months in utero and the months immediately following birth. That’s our only chance at developing those extremely important initial neurotransmitters that then go on to develop the rest of our children’s brains. When our kids are older, it is not going to matter as much the food they eat or the nutrients they receive. There are critical periods of time when a fetus is developing where sight, hearing, and executive functioning (like concentration, abstract reasoning, etc..) is developed. We call those the critical periods and during those times, the baby must receive the right nutrients to develop properly.
We know eating excessive amounts of unhealthy foods (sugar, processed, fast food, high fructose corn syrup, white flour) are not good for anyone. By knowing that, we can infer that it is not good for a developing baby. We don’t need research, or a German study to inform us of the possible detrimental effects of over eating sugar when pregnant, although we can appreciate the back up evidence. There is enough information out there, through the internet and other resources, we all know basically what is healthy and what is not.
We do not know the full extent to the consequences of eating excessive amounts of processed food and sugar on a baby’s brain but we know enough. Eating healthy is more about your level of motivation. In other words, whether you eat healthy foods is really about whether you want to or not. I have found that creating a baby’s brain can provide motivation when we cannot find it anywhere else. I have had a lot of clients that want to eat healthy just for the 9 months they are pregnant because that is best for their child.
I always encourage my clients of a couple things with regard to having a baby and those critical moments of development.
1. It is extremely important to eat healthy while pregnant on account of your unborn child’s brain development function. As I said earlier, you only get that one chance.. I believe this is an excellent litmus test to determine parental readiness as it will take a commitment on the part of the mother and also the father (or other support system members) to get the job done.
2. I believe you must be willing to consider the possibility of breast feeding your infant for a period of approximately one year following birth. We have known for many years that breast feeding creates healthier babies and keeps them healthier in the long term. All of the leading experts in the medical field have said that breastfeeding is better for your child and for that reason, we must try to find ways of providing our children with the best.
3. It is important to consider feeding your children a healthy diet in their first few years of life (when their brains are still developing and going through critical periods). Children develop their preference and taste palate in utero and in early childhood. If we want our children to have a chance at making healthy choices themselves, we must feed them lots of healthy foods when they are little.
There are many ways to raise children, and there are many parental decisions to make. I am not suggesting that all parents will come to the same conclusion after careful consideration, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances. However, I am suggesting that you consider what the experts say about healthy diet during pregnancy and breastfeeding before you make the decision to have a child. We at ReallyBeU can help you come up with a plan to achieve your goals.