Study: Fat and sugar in pregnancy can lead to ADHD

Study: Fat and sugar in pregnancy can lead to ADHD

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Pregnant women should avoid a diet high in sugar and fat
Our diet logically influences our health, this has been known for a long time. In pregnant women, however, the food consumed can also affect the health of the unborn child. Researchers have now found that pregnant women who consume high sugar and fat foods during pregnancy risk being more likely to develop ADHD in their child.

Scientists from the renowned Kings College London found in a study that an unhealthy diet high in fat and sugar during pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of developing ADHD for children. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry".

The development of ADHD could start in the uterus
Previous research has found that children who often eat unhealthy foods are more likely to develop behavioral problems (lies, aggressiveness). In addition, such children often develop Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The new results show that this development can begin in the uterus. This could be because a fatty and sweet diet mutates a gene that controls the development of the human brain, the scientists speculate. However, previous studies had shown that taking paracetamol during pregnancy, for example, increases the risk of ADHD.

Behavioral disorders and ADHD often occur together
The new investigation should be a wake-up call for doctors and politicians. It is important to educate the population about the importance of nutrition during pregnancy, the experts explain. In recent years, more and more children have been diagnosed with ADHD. Early behavioral problems and ADHD are the most common mental health problems among children in the UK and US, the study authors say. Both of these problems usually occur together. Over 40 percent of children diagnosed with a behavioral disorder also suffer from ADHD.

Researchers are investigating the effects of diet on the IGF2 gene
The mentioned psychological problems can be attributed to prenatal experiences, such as stress or poor nutrition, the doctors explain. The new study from Kings College London examined 83 children with early onset behavioral problems and 81 children with minor behavioral problems. The researchers tried to find out how the mother's diet changed the so-called IGF2 gene during pregnancy. IGF2 is involved in the fetal development and development of areas of the brain (cerebellum and hippocampus) that are associated with the development of ADHD, the experts explain.

Poor prenatal nutrition favors mutation of the IGF2 gene
Remarkably, a mutation of this gene has so far only been found in children of mothers who had to go through severe hunger and malnutrition in the Netherlands during the Second World War, the doctors say. The new results show that poor prenatal nutrition is related to an increased mutation of the IGF2 gene. This mutation has in turn been linked to a greater likelihood of symptoms for ADHD between the ages of seven and 13, but only in children with early behavioral problems, the scientists add.

Nutritional and epigenetic risk factors can be changed
Poor prenatal nutrition could be associated with higher IGF2 methylation during pregnancy, explains Dr. Edward Barker from Kings College London. This finding highlights the crucial importance of a healthy diet during pregnancy. The results of the study suggest that a healthy prenatal diet leads to fewer ADHD symptoms and less behavioral disorders in children. It is encouraging to see that our nutritional and epigenetic risk factors can be changed, the medic adds.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for the development of the nervous system
We should now examine certain types of food to determine exactly what effect it has on our nervous system. For example, omega-3 fatty acids from fish, nuts and chicken are extremely important for the development of our nervous system, explains Dr. Barker.

Further future research is urgently needed to better understand epigenetic changes
For example, according to the researchers, it is known that certain nutritional supplements can lead to a lower likelihood of ADHD in children. Therefore, it is important to examine the role of epigenetic changes in this process in future research. (as)

Author and source information

Video: Power Foods for the Brain. Neal Barnard. TEDxBismarck (May 2022).