New study suggests link between unhealthy diets in pregnancy and behavioural problems

New research suggests that having a high fat and high sugar diet in pregnancy may cause behavioural problems in young children.

A recent study by scientists at King’s College London (KCL) and the University of Bristol suggests that having a diet high in fat and sugar during pregnancy may be linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.

The research appears to show that having an unhealthy diet in pregnancy may alter the baby’s DNA and cause brain changes that can later lead to ADHD. While diets high in fat and sugar are proven to cause obesity and pregnancy problems such as gestational diabetes, this new study suggests that diet can also affect a baby’s future mental health.

The study marks a significant step towards understanding the importance of having a healthy and balanced diet in pregnancy, however parents that have children with ADHD should not blame themselves. Diet is just one of the factors thought to cause behavioural problems.

Our midwife Kate explains:

“ADHD is a very complex and its cause is still largely unknown.  This study has simply shown a link between an unhealthy diet in pregnancy and ADHD, and not a proven cause.  A healthy balanced diet has always been known to be very important during pregnancy for many reasons.  For mums-to-be being aware of what is in foods and trying to maintain balance has always been, and should continue to be recommended.”


Check how balanced your diet is using the Eatwell tool.

Try our resources to help you manage your weight in pregnancy.

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    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.

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