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7 Ways Pregnant Women Affect Babies

  • Introduction

    A doctor checks a pregnant woman's heart rate with a stethoscope.
    Intro
    CREDIT: Pregnancy photo via Shutterstock pregnant-woman-doctor-120425
  • Shed pounds before pregnancy

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    CREDIT: Exercise photo via Shutterstock pregnant-exercise-120224
  • Drink coffee in moderation

    A woman holds a cup of coffee and looks at her computer screen
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    CREDIT: Busy morning photo via Shutterstock Woman with Coffee
  • Avoid secondhand smoke

    Broken Cigarette
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    CREDIT: Cigarette photo via Shutterstock Broken Cigarette
  • Discuss antidepressants with your doctor

    A pregnant woman's belly
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    CREDIT: Pregnant woman photo via Shutterstock pregnancy-131401
  • Get your 'D'

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    CREDIT: Dreamstime Pregnant Belly
  • Nuke your deli meats

    lunch meat, deli meat, cold cuts, nitrites, nitrates, healthy eating
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    CREDIT: Deli meat photo via Shutterstock lunch-meat-111230
  • Guard against air pollution

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    CREDIT: Viktor Fiker | Dreamstime Air Pollution

What a baby looks like and how it will act are, to a certain extent, determined by the genes the child inherits from it parents. But children's environments also play a role in whom they will ultimately become, and that environment starts in the womb.

Most expectant women are warned that drinking alcohol, smoking and even eating unpasteurized cheeses can have serious consequences for the growth and development of their unborn children.

But there are other ways in which a pregnant woman influences the later health of her child.

Nine months is "actually an incredibly short amount of time for so much growth," said Kim Yolton, a professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "There are so many things that have to fall exactly into place, or there can be problems," she said.

Here are seven surprising ways that pregnant moms can affect their babies, and tips for how they can protect their pregnancies.

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