Cravings are a known hallmark of pregnancy. There is a strong urge to eat certain foods during pregnancy, due to a series of physiological and behavioral changes. But frequent consumption of tasty, high-calorie foods to overcome cravings can lead to weight gain or obesity during pregnancy. Not much was known about the reason behind these cravings.
In a new study Researchers at the University of Barcelona in Spain, sheds light on the neurobiology of cravings for certain foods women experience while pregnant. According to researchers, during pregnancy, the brain undergoes alterations to functional connections in the reward systems and taste and sensorimotor centers. Pregnant females become more sensitive to sweet foods and develop binge eating behaviors toward high-calorie foods. Pregnancy induces a full reorganization of the mesolimbic neural circuits via D2R dopaminergic neurons in the nucleus accumbens.
The study also shows that continued food cravings during pregnancy affect offspring. This is because it affects the metabolism and development of the neural circuits that control your baby’s food intake, leading to weight gain, anxiety, and eating disorders. “These results are shocking,” study author Mark Clarett. said.