Pre-pregnancy diet affects offspring’s health

Washington: A new study has suggested that poor maternal diet before conception can result in the offspring being born with reduced birth weight and increased risk of developing type II diabetes and obesity.

The researchers used an animal model to illustrate the importance of maternal diet even before the pregnancy begins.

They fed mice a low protein diet for ten weeks before conception, but a normal diet during pregnancy. Resultantly, the mice gave birth to offspring with lower birth weights and increased insulin sensitivity.

“Low birth weight and catch-up growth is associated with enhanced insulin-sensitivity in young adults, this then deteriorates into insulin resistance and type II diabetes with increased age. There is also evidence that male offspring are more likely to develop obesity,” said Ms Anete Dudele, researcher from the University of Aarhus.

Considering that humans and mice respond in the same way to poor diet during pregnancy, it becomes even more imperative for women to take a healthy diet before conception.

“If humans respond in the same way as mice to pre-conception diet as well then women should not only consider what they eat during pregnancy but also before pregnancy if they want to reduce the risk of their future children acquiring lifestyle diseases,” Dudele added.

The study has been presented at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Conference in Glasgow.


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