Prenatal nutrition addresses nutrient recommendations before and during pregnancy. Nutrition and weight management before and during pregnancy has a profound effect on the development of infants. This is a rather critical time for healthy development since infants rely heavily on maternal stores and nutrient for optimal growth and health outcome later in life.
Prenatal nutrition has a strong influence on birth weight and further development of the infant. There was a study at the National Institution of Health which found that babies born from an obese mother have a higher probability to fail tests of fine motor skills which is the movement of small muscles such as the hands and fingers.
A common saying that a woman "is eating for two" while pregnant implies that a mother should consume twice as much during pregnancy, but is misleading. Although maternal consumption will directly affect both herself and the growing fetus, overeating excessively will compromise the baby's health as the infant will have to work extra hard to become healthy in the future. Compared with the infant, the mother possesses the least biological risk. Therefore, excessive calories, rather than going to the infant, often get stored as fat in the mother. On the other hand, insufficient consumption will result in lower birth weight.
Maintaining a healthy weight during gestation lowers adverse risks on infants such as birth defects, as well as chronic conditions in adulthood such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Ideally, the rate of weight gain should be monitored during pregnancy to support the most ideal infant development.