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Pregnant Women's Diet Affects Facial Features of Their Children, Scientists Find

Do you have a big nose you despise? Or pointy features you find annoying?

Well, blame your mother and her late night pregnancy cravings for chocolate ice cream dusted with Flaming Hot Cheetos.

A new study in Nature Communications suggests that your mother's diet during pregnancy is a significant factor in how your facial features are shaped due to a complex dance between gene expression and how much protein she ate while you were a fetus swimming inside her tummy — putting a new spin on the phrase "you are what you eat."

An international team of scientists came to this conclusion by collecting and transcribing genes responsible for human facial formation, identifying from this cohort protein complexes called the mTORC1 pathway that they surmised could fine-tune the features of your face.

In order to see if the mTORC1 pathway does indeed influence facial features, the scientists took genetically modified mice and zebra fish where they could track mTORC1 activity and fed them varying diets.

From there, they found that a high protein diet influenced mTORC1 activity by leading to more prominent facial features, while lower protein diets led to smaller facial features. In sum, they wrote, material protein intake is correlated to "subtle, but distinct changes in the craniofacial shape of the embryos."

It makes sense, from a high-level view, that a mother's diet during pregnancy would play a role in how babies turn out looking. After all, we already know that when mothers drink alcohol during pregnancy, this leads to infants with certain features that indicate fetal alcohol syndrome.

Needless to say, though: if you're pregnant, just eat a reasonable diet and whatever your doctor recommends. It's not worth risking your health — or that of your unborn child — for some hypothetical face gains.

More on pregnancy: People Unexpectedly Getting Pregnant on Ozempic and Wegovy