The lasting effects of a pregnant mother's diet

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Nine months of pregnancy can present a mom-to-be with a variety of challenges. Often times, one of the biggest challenges is food.

Whether you're struggling with bizarre cravings or aversions to everything in sight, eating a well-balanced diet can be a struggle when you're expecting. Dr. Giovanni Piedimonte of Cleveland Clinic Children's says that new research suggests a correlation between an expectant mother's diet and the long-term health implications of her baby.

"I think that a balanced diet during pregnancy and also during lactation is extremely important in that is going to have a very substantial impact on the fetus," she says.

In this latest research, animal models were studied and results show that mothers who were fed high fat diets transferred the fat and calories directly to their babies through the placenta, affecting the baby's lung function.

This finding confirms there is more to developing chronic diseases than just the genes you inherit from mom and dad.

According to Dr. Piedimonte, most of the chronic diseases that plague adults including asthma, diabetes and obesity start very early, and their effects may become irreversible by four or five years of age.

"It's a wonderful container in which the baby thrives, but if we are not careful about the diet, I think that there are going to be long-term implications that manifest as chronic diseases," Dr. Piedimonte says.

Dr. Piedimonte says the greatest act of love that a mother can give to her unborn baby is a well-balanced diet with essential nutrients and vitamins that will help protect against disease not only now, but also later in  life.