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The ABC’s of Growing a Healthy Baby, Part 1

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You may be trying to remember the jingle for the “ABC” song before your baby is born, but it’s more important to know the ABC’s of good nutrition throughout your 9 months of  pregnancy.

Scientists are just beginning to understand the complexity of a woman’s diet on her unborn fetus, and they’re beginning to believe that a baby’s genetic destiny of good or poor  health is ‘programmed’ in the first few months of life by the type and amount of nutrition received.

By taking action now, you can increase your chances of having a healthy baby at birth and throughout his or her life. So here are the ABC’s you should learn so you will be delivering the best nutrition to your growing bundle of joy.

Abstain/Avoid from certain harmful substances.

Alcohol: When you drink alcohol, in any form, so does your unborn baby. There is no known safe amount of alcohol or time during pregnancy to drink. Therefore, it is recommended that women abstain from drinking alcohol throughout pregnancy.

Lead: Test your tap water for lead contamination. Avoid Mexican candy that has been shown to contain high amounts of lead in numerous tests.

Mercury: Do not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish. Eat no more than 6 oz [size of two decks of cards] per week of canned albacore (“white”) tuna, tuna steaks, lobster, halibut, and orange roughy. Eat no more than 12 oz [3 decks of cards] per week of shrimp, canned light tuna (not albacore tuna), salmon, pollock, and catfish, or fish sticks. High mercury levels in a fetus or young child can damage the brain and nervous system. For more information on avoiding fish during pregnancy, click here.

Caffeine: Caffeine, found in teas, coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and over-the-counter medications, should also be limited or avoided. Be sure to read labels when trying to cut down on caffeine during pregnancy. More than 200 foods, beverages, and over-the-counter medications contain caffeine!

Trans-fatty Acids: These fats have been shown to reduce the amount of good poly-unsaturated fats in your body and your fetus, which are essential for human growth and development. Limiting or avoiding them is recommended.

Continue Reading with the ABC’s, with The ABC’s of Growing a Healthy Baby, Part 2, the next article in this series.



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About the Author

Megan is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Portland, Oregon. She specializes in nutrition education, nutrition and health writing, and clinical nutrition. Megan is currently working in clinical nutrition as a diabetes educator at Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel Children's Diabetes and Endocrinology Clinic.


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