- A number of previous studies have found that babies tend to weigh more and grow more quickly if expectant mothers drink milk
- But new study has found that benefits can last into adulthood
- Children tended to be taller if the mother drank 150ml of milk a day
- By their late teens these children also had higher levels of insulin in their bloodstream, suggesting they were less at risk of getting type two diabetes
Children born to women who drink milk during pregnancy are more likely to be tall when they are teenagers, new research shows.
A team of scientists who tracked babies born in the late eighties found their height during adolescence was directly related to how much milk their mothers consumed when they were in the womb.
Although maternal milk intake has long been thought to promote growth in newborn babies, the latest research suggests the benefits last well into early adulthood.
Nutrition experts from Iceland, Denmark and the U.S. wanted to see if the benefits seen in the early stages of life from milk were extended into later years.
They tracked babies born to 809 women in Denmark in 1988 and 1989, after monitoring how much milk the women had consumed during the pregnancy.
The babies were measured for weight and birth length and tthen followed up again almost 20 years later.
The results, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, show teenagers of both sexes were generally taller if their mothers had drunk more than 150 millilitres – roughly a quarter of a pint of milk – a day during the pregnancy, compared to children born to women who drank less than that amount.
By their late teens they also had higher levels of insulin in their bloodstream, suggesting they were less at risk of getting type two diabetes.
In a report on the findings researchers said: ‘Maternal milk consumption may have a growth-promoting effect with respect to weight and length at birth.
‘These results also provide some suggestion that this effect may even track into early adult age.’
Earlier this year British scientists found pregnant women could boost their babies’ IQ by drinking more milk because it is rich in iodine.
They looked at more than 1,000 pregnant women and found those who consumed lower amounts of iodine – which is also found in other dairy products and fish – were more likely to have children with lower IQs and reading abilities.
Iodine is essential for producing hormones made by the thyroid gland, which has a direct effect on the development of the foetal brain.