Expectant Mother's Poor Diet May Cause Baby Health Problems

BEIJING,March 11 (Xinhuanet) --A poor diet during pregnancy may result in health problems such as diabetes for the offspring in later life, according media reports Friday quotting a new research.

Based on a study of rats, researchers from the University of Cambridge altered the protein content of the mother's diet during pregnancy as they found that rats were more vulnerable to the effects of diseases if their mothers were malnourished while they were pregnant.

Further, the study also showed that an imbalanced diet in the expectant mother can compromise the long-term functioning of a gene in the child. And the gene, named Hnf4a, is believed to play a major role in the development of the pancreas and in the production of insulin.
The researchers held similar mechanisms seen in the rat study could occur in humans, and that the effects might be felt by more than just the immediate offspring.

"What is most exciting about these findings is that we are now starting to really understand how nutrition during the first nine months of life spent in the womb shape our long term health by influencing how the cells in our body age," said Susan Ozanne, senior author of the paper and senior fellow from the Institute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge.

And Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "The reasons why are not well understood, but this study in rats adds to the evidence that a mother's diet may sometimes alter the control of certain genes in her unborn child."

"It's no reason for expectant mothers to be unduly worried. This research doesn't change our advice that pregnant women should try to eat a healthy, balanced diet," he added.


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