Washington: A study has warned against use of Resveratrol supplements, which is a plant compound found in the skin of red grapes and in peanuts and berries, among other plants by pregnant women.
The study revealed that a widely available dietary supplement that had been considered safe - and that some claim provides anti-ageing and other health benefits - caused significant developmental abnormalities in the pancreas of offspring of pregnant monkeys who were given the supplement.
The supplement form of the compound has been available in pharmacies and health food stores for years, with claims that it has a wide range of health benefits.
The compound is thought to be an anti-oxidant and an anti-inflammatory, and some animal studies do confirm some benefits. All previous studies had found it to be safe in humans.
Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University's Oregon National Primate Research Center and the University of Colorado-Denver were focusing on some of those potential benefits when they began studying the compound in monkeys.
The research indicated that resveratrol did provide some real benefits in the pregnant monkeys, including improved blood flow through the placenta to the fetus. Placental abnormalities contribute to many of the pregnancy complications and health issues with babies of obese women who eat an unhealthy Western diet.
But the researchers also found an effect that surprised them - resveratrol had a significantly negative effect on the development of the pancreas in the monkey fetus. The pancreas is critical for the body's regulation of blood glucose.
The study has been published in the FASEB Journal.