Food As Medicine (Even For Your Fetus)

pregnancy diet, children's healthby Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, Executive Director/CEO, Healthy Child Healthy World

At Healthy Child Healthy World, we spend a lot of time talking about children’s health. But recently, I became more aware of the connection between what we do before our kids are born, and their health as babies, children—even adults.

Last week, more than 700 international physicians and scientists met in Portland at the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Conference to discuss the “Barker Hypotheses,” an idea originated by Oregon Health & Science University professor Dr. David Barker more than 25 years ago.

According to the Portland Tribune, Dr. Barker’s theory that what passes through the placenta during pregnancy can predispose a person—even an adult—to conditions like asthma and heart disease is now being validated by the medical community.

The conference takes up where Annie Murphy Paul leaves off with her book Origins: How The Nine Months Before Birth Shape The Rest Of Our Lives, which theorizes that just as some circumstances, foods and exposures can be damaging during pregnancy, there are also certain "chemoprotective" foods that if consumed during pregnancy can help prevent offspring from developing diseases later on.

Dr. Green expanded on this idea in an article earlier this year, pointing to leafy green vegetables with the potential to reverse BPA damage. (If you’re planning on becoming pregnant, we also have a handy-dandy “What to eat before pregnancy” article on the site, too.)

Food as medicine? This is fascinating stuff! (Forgive me as I geek out.)

And it’s also inspiring to see communities gathering together to protect pregnant women around the world, through programs like ABC News’ “Million Moms Challenge,” which they launched this month with the United Nations Foundation, as well as Christy Turlington’s Every Mother Counts organization, which she brought to the United Nations “Maternal Health in Crisis” conference last week.

And, finally, this week I’m so honored to introduce a personal hero of mine this Wednesday as food activist Robyn O’Brien hosts a free webinar with Stonyfield about eating and living healthier.

Go, mamas!


Photo courtesy Menno Hordij / CC BY 2.0