An unhealthy diet during pregnancy or early childhood can increase the risk of behavioral problems and mental disorders in children, new Norwegian research shows. 

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This writes ABC Nyheter. They go on to say:

Now a Norwegian study has also found a connection between the mother's diet during pregnancy and the child's own diet early in life, and the risk of mental illness.

This is the first time researchers have found a connection between the mother's nutrition during pregnancy and the child's early eating habits, and an increased risk of behavioral and emotional problems among children, says researcher Eivind Ystrøm at The National Institute of Public Health in a press release, according to ABC Nyheter.

The National Institute of Public Health (NIPH) writes on its website that the results from the study showed:


  1. If the mother had a high intake of unhealthy foods throughout the pregnancy, the risk increased that the children developed behavioral problems in early childhood. 
  2. Toddlers who ate unhealthy foods in their first five years of life, or did not eat enough nutritious foods such as vegetables, had an increased risk of symptoms of depression and anxiety in addition to behavioral problems. The study shows that it is not only unhealthy foods that are linked to mental illness, but also eating little of healthy foods.
  3. The difference in behavioral problems between those who ate little nutritious food was present already at 1,5 years of age, and persisted until 5 years of age.


They add:

For children, unhealthy foods were defined as, for example, waffles, chocolate, pizza and ice cream, while healthy foods were defined as, among other things, fish products, vegetables, eggs and bread with cold cuts.