This is how the baby’s face is affected by the mother’s diet

The amount of protein in the diet of pregnant women can affect how the baby’s face will look.
This is shown by a new study that has been carried out on mice – but the results are believed to be the same in humans.
– Our data indicate that the mechanism looks the same in all species with jaws, says Andrei Chagin, researcher in molecular medicine.

A child is expected to have similar facial features to their parents. But the appearance can also be influenced by things other than genetics. The study from Gothenburg University shows that protein intake during pregnancy affects the face of newborns.

– The result underlines the crucial importance of maintaining a well-balanced diet during pregnancy, with special attention to protein intake, says Andrei Chagin, who is professor of molecular medicine and leads the study.

Obvious differences in the face

Pregnant mice were fed different protein-rich diets that varied between 4 and 40 percent. In the newborn pups, the differences in the face depending on the amount of protein were noticeable, albeit subtle.

– We saw an enlarged nasal cavity in the cub if the female had a protein-enriched diet, and a slightly elongated jaw with a low-protein diet, says Andrei Chagin.

The differences in the appearance of the baby mice varied between five and ten percent, depending on how much protein the mother ate during pregnancy. The results are believed to be the same for humans as well.

– It is difficult to describe the exact effects of the protein content of the diet during pregnancy in humans. But our data suggest that the mechanism looks the same in all jawed species, says Andrei Chagin.

Important for pregnant vegans

The results of the study help researchers understand the occurrence of facial deformities and how these can be both prevented and treated. A low-protein diet during pregnancy causes children to differ more from their parents than those who have a balanced diet.

– This is especially important for vegans who risk not getting enough protein, says Andrei Chagin.

What advice do you have for a woman during pregnancy?

– If you want your child to look like you, eat a balanced diet.