Diet During Pregnancy Can Shape Child's Taste For Nicotine And Alcohol, Experts Warn

By Fiona Macrae Science Editor for The Daily Mail

 Image via: stephaniepreston.weebly.com

Image via: stephaniepreston.weebly.com

If you can’t resist lighting up when having a drink with friends, blame your mother.

A study found that mother’s diet in pregnancy affects her unborn child’s taste for cigarettes and alcohol.

If she gorges on junk food, it seems to change her child’s brain, programming it to enjoy the combination of the two vices.

The experiments were done on rats but the New York researchers believe they help why so many of us light to light up while having a drink. 

The team from Rockefeller University compared teenage rats whose mothers had eaten fatty food when pregnant with animals exposed to a normal diet in the womb.

The creatures were placed in cages with levers that released nicotine and alcohol and trained on how to press them.

Those exposed to a fatty diet before birth were desperate to get their nicotine fix.

They continued to press an extra-stiff lever when the normal rats had given up.

These creatures also preferred a shot of nicotine and alcohol to one of nicotine alone, the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior’s, annual conference in Denver heard.

The researchers believe that exposure to fat before birth programmes the brain to enjoy the buzz of nicotine and alcohol.

Previous research has suggested that to fatty and salty foods in the womb and through breast milk having long-lasting effects on the development of the brain regions that control appetite. 

The work is part of a growing body of research that points to a child’s health being programmed early in life, including the womb and pre-conception.

It is argued that these early days shape a child’s chances of everything from developing diabetes in their 40s and 50s to having a heart attack in old age.

It is even said that life expectancy can be traced back to these early days and months, as can a lifelong battle of the bulge.