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Women's Health

Blame Your Health on Mom? Not So Fast

Your mom can do a lot to help your health, but don’t be too quick to blame her when it goes wrong.
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Mom's Diet Counts continued...

How Mom cares for her baby outside of the womb is also important. A number of studies have touted the benefits of breastfeeding, finding that it can boost children's brainpower and reduce their risk for obesity as they grow.

Once children start on solid foods, feeding them a healthy, well-balanced diet can prevent them from growing into obese adults and from developing diseases related to obesity, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.  Mom also has the important task of instilling in her kids the good eating habits that will lead them into a healthy adulthood.

What About Dad?

It seems like moms are under a lot of pressure for how their kids turn out, but don't the fathers also bear some of the responsibility for their children's future health and well-being? "There is an emerging body of evidence showing that fathers transmit information to their kids through the sperm," Gregg says. "Fathers can have an influence as well."

Not only do fathers contribute part of their child's genes, but they also play an important role in feeding, caring for, and nurturing that child during the early years.

However, our experts stress we shouldn't be placing "blame" on either parent. Scientists are still learning about the interactions between genes and environment and how they might determine a baby's future health, but what they can say with great certainty is that moms (and dads) shouldn't feel guilty about any of the genes they pass down to their children.

"You have no control over the sequence of DNA that you give to your kids," Gregg says. "All you can do is your best to be healthy yourself, and teach your kids to make good lifestyle choices."

Instead of blaming, we should be focusing on how we can improve health for all babies, Aagaard says. "What we're really trying to understand is, how do we program for health," she says. "How do we make sure this next generation is healthier than the last."

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Reviewed on May 03, 2011

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