The research followed nearly 3,000 women during their pregnancies and then looked at whether their diets were linked to bone mass in their children later on. The scientists had the women record what they ate each day and measured concentrations of vitamins in their blood. Then, when the children were roughly 6 years old, the researchers carried out imaging tests to assess their bone mass.
The study found that the children whose mothers consumed more protein, phosphorus and vitamin B12 when they were pregnant had the greatest bone mass and bone mineral content. The researchers also found that higher consumption of carbohydrates and greater blood concentrations of homocysteine – an amino acid that accumulates in response to a deficiency in B vitamins – were associated with lower bone mass and mineral content.
The study, which was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, could not rule out the possibility that expectant mothers who ate more vitamin-rich foods simply went on to provide their young children with more healthful diets. But the researchers said they suspected that there was a more direct relationship and that “fetal nutritional exposures may permanently influence bone development.”