Mother’s trans fat consumption linked to baby’s size

A new study by Harvard School of Public Health researchers and colleagues found that women who ate more food containing trans fats, such as fried foods and baked goods, gave birth to larger babies.

The study will appear in the November 2011 print issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Drawing from dietary questionnaires completed by 1,400 pregnant Boston-area women between 1999 and 2002, researchers found that for every one percent increase in trans fats in a woman’s daily diet, her baby’s fetal growth increased slightly.

Lead author Juliana Cohen, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Nutrition, told Reuters that this does not prove that trans fats alone boost fetal growth, and it is not known how harmful exposure to trans fats may be for babies. But larger babies and their mothers do face health risks. Babies may need to be delivered by Cesarian-section and may grow up with increased risks of diabetes and heart disease, she told Reuters.

“It’s prudent to limit trans fats in your diet anyway. Pregnant women may want to think about how (the fats) could affect fetal growth as well,” Cohen said.

Read the Reuters article