According to the United States Department of Agriculture, pregnant women should consume three cups of milk each day for calcium, protein, and vitamin D to ensure a safe and healthy pregnancy. Skim or 1 percent milk is recommended for expectant mothers because of the lower fat and calorie content. Whole milk is known for its saturated fat content, which can increase a person’s risk for both heart disease and cancer, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

The consumption of milk during pregnancy has long been associated with benefitting newborns during their early stages of life — but the benefits don't stop there. Women who drink milk while pregnant are more likely to have taller children and cut their children's risk of diabetes, according to a study.

Findings published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveal that children who were born to women that consumed milk during pregnancy reported to be taller as teenagers, with higher levels of insulin in their bloodstream, compared to children born to women who drank less milk. Nutrition experts from Iceland, Denmark, and the United States tracked babies born to 809 women in Denmark in 1988 and 1989 to monitor how much milk the women consumed during pregnancy. The newborns were measured for weight and birth length with a follow-up approximately 20 years later.

Mothers who drank more than 150 milliliters, or a quarter of a pint, of milk daily during pregnancy had children who were generally taller (both male and female), compared to children born to women who drank less than 150 milliliters. The researchers also found that during the participants’ late teens, they showed high levels of insulin in their bloodstream, suggesting a low risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

According to the American Diabetes Association, about one in every 400 children and adolescents have diabetes. Every year, there are approximately 3,7000 new cases of type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, diagnosed in U.S. youth. Excessive weight gain in children is suspected to be the main culprit behind this epidemic.

“Maternal milk consumption may have a growth-promoting effect with respect to weight and length at birth,” wrote the researchers. “These results also provide some suggestion that this effect may even track into early adult age."

Pregnant women, like their children, can reap the benefits of milk as it promotes strong bones and a healthy body.