I’m always a little skeptical of new drugs and treatments that come out for pregnant women because you never know the long term side effects. For example, the morning sickness drug Bendectin was taken off the market in 1983 because it was later found to cause birth defects. In a similar way, researchers are now finding that women who don’t drink enough milk during pregnancy can actually increase their child’s chances of developing multiple sclerosis during adulthood.
A study presented by American Academy of Neurology found that women whose mothers consumed at least four glasses of milk a day during pregnancy were 56% less less likely to develop MS later in life than women whose mothers consumed three or fewer glasses a day. The study involved over 35 thousand mothers who filled out a questionnaire about their experiences and diet during pregnancy with their daughters. The research followed 199 women who developed MS through the 16-year study.
Dr. Fariba Mirzaei with the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston said that, “we also found the risk of MS among daughters whose mothers were in the top 20% of vitamin D intake during pregnancy was 45% lower than daughters whose mothers were in the bottom 20% for vitamin D intake during pregnancy."
Besides the long-term health effects of drinking milk, milk and other dairy products also have short-term health benefits for you during pregnancy as well. For one, it’s a great source of calcium. In fact, by not consuming milk and other dairy products, you may lose calcium from your bones and fail meet your baby's needs for the mineral. Milk is also full of protein, which helps build up your uterus, blood supply, and helps with your baby’s tissue formation. A lack of protein can cause your child to be born underweight, and can cause other health problems as well.
The best way to meet calcium and protein requirements during pregnancy is through your diet. However, if you are unable to meet the requirements through your diet, then you can get your recommended dose through supplements. Before skipping right to supplements however, remember that milk is an important part of your diet and even if you don’t like drinking it often, it may have health benefits for your child in the long run. If you have any questions about calcium or protein, talk to your doctor today to see how you can remain as healthy as possible throughout your pregnancy.
- American Academy of Neurology (2010, February 12). Drinking milk during pregnancy may lower baby's risk of multiple sclerosis. ScienceDaily.