We've long known that a pregnant mother's alcohol and tobacco use can harm a developing fetus, but we're now learning much more about how a baby's first nine months before birth can affect its health into adulthood.
The environment of the womb, which is determined by a mother's health, lifestyle and surroundings, can alter the development of a fetus with permanent and lifelong implications. This concept of "fetal programming" explains some of the developmental origins of health and disease, including a child's increased risk for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease as an adult.
In addition to alcohol and tobacco cessation and eating a well-balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables and healthy sources of proteins, proper weight gain and exercise and good mental health during pregnancy are especially important for a baby's lifelong health. Pregnancy is a critical window, and even if you've never exercised, watched your weight, or actively tended to your mental health in the past, investing in yourself for the nine months of pregnancy could have implications for the next 100 years of your child's life.