You know a pregnant woman's habits can affect her newborn's health (on the plus side -- taking a prenatal multi-vitamin reduces autism spectrum disorder risk by 40 percent and spine malformation and childhood cancer by more than 60 percent.). But did you know it can also influence how an offspring ages 20 years later?
Smoking, having preeclampsia, extreme air pollution and uncontrolled asthma can lower oxygen levels during pregnancy, which research shows can cause problems for adult children years later. Here are some ways you can help yourself, and your children, get a healthy start while you're still pregnant.
Increase oxygen for baby in the womb
Upping your intake of foods rich in polyphenols while pregnant may increase oxygen levels and make offspring age more slowly. Try blueberries, kidney beans, artichokes and red delicious apples.
Get a good dose of vitamin D
Preliminary research indicates that vitamin D deficiency while pregnant may up adult children's risk for multiple sclerosis by 90 percent. Get a blood test to determine your blood level and take 1000 IU daily of D3.
Lower your intake of saturated fats
Young adults whose pregnant moms had elevated LDL cholesterol are almost four times more likely to have elevated LDL too. So, future moms, cut out sat-fat foods, like processed and red meats and added sugars and syrups, while increasing consumption of whole grains and produce.
Fight high blood pressure with exercise
A study done in Spain, led by Western University in London, Ontario, reveals that exercising when pregnant -- and you don't need to train like an Olympic athlete -- is effective for fighting off high blood pressure (HBP). HBP affects up to 10 percent of all pregnant women and triggers preeclampsia and eclampsia that are a threat to mother and fetus. HBP is also associated with long-term maternal risk of heart disease.
The women in the study did 50 to 55 minutes of aerobic, strength and flexibility exercises three times a week from weeks 9 to 11 to weeks 38 to 39. And the workouts did more than battle hypertension: The study showed pregnant women who didn't exercise were one and a half times more likely to gain excess weight and two and a half times more likely to deliver a baby that was oversize.
Check with your doctor first
So, if you're pregnant or planning on it, get a diet and exercise okay from your doctor. Check for programs that teach stress management, nutrition and cooking and appropriate physical activity, to help you avoid long-term health risks to yourself and your children.
This content originally appeared on Sharecare.com.