pregnantA new study from the United States claims that pregnant women who eat too much sugary and fatty food put their child at risk of developing a drug or alcohol problem in later life.

Drug and Alcohol Vulnerability.

The findings, taken from experimentation on the diet of rats, were presented this week at the American Psychological Association’s (APA) annual meeting in Hawaii. According to the study, conducted at the University of Florida, vulnerability towards drug and alcohol abuse may start in the womb and be linked to the amount of sugar and fat-based foods consumed during pregnancy.

To test the effect of a mothers diet on the offspring two groups of rat pups, one group with mothers exposed to high-sugar diet and the other high-fat, were raised by rats with a regular diet to observe their reactions to addictive substances.

Rats who were fed a high-fat diet had offspring that weighed more as adults and drank more of the alcohol offered to them by researchers. Likewise, rats whose diet consisted of a high sucrose and fructose foods showed a greater interest in commonly abused drugs such as amphetamines compared to rats fed on regular food.

Nicole Avena, a neuroscientist with the University of Florida’s McKnight Brain Institute said: “Our findings suggest that even while [rats are] still in the womb, exposure to high-fat and sugar-rich diets can, in addition to increasing body weight, lead to a predisposition to drink alcohol and a sensitivity to drugs,”

A Warning to Mothers.

Speaking at the American Psychological Association’s annual meeting, Nicole Avena said: “The majority of women in the U.S. at child-bearing age are overweight, and this is most likely due to overeating the tasty, high-fat, high-sugar foods you find everywhere in our society,”

“The rise in prenatal and childhood obesity, and the rise in number of youths abusing alcohol and drugs, merits looking into all the possible roots of these growing problems.”

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