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Does Diet During Pregnancy Affect the Size of a Baby?

If you’re pregnant, you probably worry more about the health of your baby than anything else. It seems as if there are daily reports on what you should or shouldn’t eat or do, how daily activities can affect your baby and all the things that can go unexpectedly wrong. Your diet is center stage in this never-ending stream of information because your baby receives all his nutrients and energy from you for the first 9 months of life.

Pregnancy Affect the Size of a Baby



A study published in the “British Medicine Journal” found no link between maternal diet and birth weight. This study, which tracked 693 women’s diets throughout pregnancy, compared the nutrient intake to birth and placental weight at delivery. Vitamin C was associated with a measurable change in birth and placental weight, but this association was minute and applied only to vitamin C intake during the first trimester.



Although your diet–if typical of the industrialized world–does not play a serious role in your baby’s size, extreme dieting that leads to malnutrition can. Because your baby needs calories to grow, a calorie-restricted diet often leads to a lower birth weight. A study published in the “American Academy of Pediatrics” medical journal found that calorie deprivation during pregnancy resulted in an appreciable decrease in birth weight.



Anemia is a disorder caused by insufficient iron intake. Iron is used to create red blood cells, which carry oxygen to tissues, organs and muscles in your body. When you have a low red blood cell count and a low iron level, you have iron-deficiency anemia. This disorder, which is common among pregnant women as their blood volume increases rapidly in the first and second trimester, can affect the size of your baby. The European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology” distributed an examination that connected maternal iron deficiency to an expansion in low birth weight and preterm conveyance.



Smoking during pregnancy is the most preventable cause of low birth weight. A study published in “American Academy of Pediatrics” found that maternal smoking caused birth weights to be lowered by as much as 5 percent. The reduction in birth weight is closely tied with the number of cigarettes smoked per day, with the greatest reductions occurring to babies of mothers who smoked the most. Quitting smoking before pregnancy is the best way to ensure your baby is born at a healthy weight, but quitting at any point will help his development.



If all the information out there scares you, you’re not alone. But remember that the majority of things that can affect your baby’s size are simply risk factors and not a definite sentence to any particular fate. Whether you’re worried about that night of drinking before you knew you were pregnant, the smoking habit you didn’t give up until the fourth month or the low-carb diet you didn’t stop until those last 10 pounds were gone, rest assured that the majority of babies are born healthy, on time and fat. Follow the best diet and lifestyle you can while you’re pregnant, and don’t stress about possible outcomes, especially if your doctor insists that everything is OK.


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