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Planning for a Healthy Baby in 2013!

Preconception planning is often overlooked by expectant parents. Once the decision is made to have a baby, most people want to conceive immediately. The four months before a baby is conceived is a critical time to live a healthy lifestyle to ensure the healthiest baby possible.  You can achieve this goal by improving your nutritional status, environmental exposures and life stressors.  A deficit, or “malnutrition,” in any of these three areas, may have an effect on every aspect of the baby’s development and their predisposition for health complications later in life.

Nutrition

There are a few key nutrients that a mother must have in her diet. Everything you eat can affect the baby that you may one day have. By ensuring that your diet includes adequate amounts of Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Iron, and Zinc will affect the fundamental development of the baby’s DNA. Vitamins A, C, E, Zinc , Selenium, and Omega 3-fatty acids protect from oxidative damage from free radicals.

Avoiding Malnutrition

Mothers that suffer from malnutrition often times will lead to having low birthweight babies. Low birthweight is not genetic, but a direct correlation of the prenatal environment and the developing baby. Severe malnutrition may lead to higher incidences of heart disease and mood disorders in the offspring.  Mothers with low protein diets may result in babies prone to vascular dysfunction, impaired immune systems, and diabetes. Mothers with high protein diets, where they avoid carbohydrates in pregnancy, tend to have children who are predisposed to having high cholesterol.

Reduce Stress

Ensuring that you live in a stress free environment is also important in preconception planning. Stress does not only include common stressors such as anxiety, although that is important to decrease as well, but can also include exposure to toxins, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons found in cigarette smoke. Prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke may result in developmental delay, behavioral disorders, and low birth weight.  Other sources of toxin exposure may come from substances that we come into contact with in our everyday life such as BPA found in plastics.

By being aware of our lifestyles in the preconception planning time, we can help influence the development of our children.

Brooke Holway A.R.N.P

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