Pregnancy Nutrition Report

Pregnant women's nutrition can predispose their children to obesity

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Sometimes pregnant women go overboard with weight gain because they believe they're eating for two. A new study shows that the extra weight gain may have a direct impact on the baby's future health.

A mother's poor nutritional choices can actually alter her unborn child's DNA to create a greater risk towards becoming obese.

"Eating properly during pregnancy encourages your child's healthy development."

Keith Godfrey, Professor of Epidemiology and Human Development at the University of Southampton, led a new study that illustrates a strong link between a woman's nutritional choices during her pregnancy and her unborn child's risk for obesity.

The authors report that a mother's nutrition while pregnant can cause epigenetic changes, a process that alters the function of DNA but doesn't change the actual DNA code.

These changes can influence how the child's body responds to diet and exercise.

This study concludes that measures to prevent childhood obesity begin with improving a mother's nutrition and her baby's development in the womb. Access to better information about nutrition and lifestyle choices for all young mothers will improve the next generation's risk for developing diabetes and heart disease.

Team member Sir Peter Gluckman FRS of the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland and the Singapore Institute of Clinical Sciences commented that the study reiterates the idea that the epidemic of chronic lifestyle diseases won't be reversed by adult interventions alone.

In Depth

  • Researchers measured epigenetic changes in nearly 300 children at birth
  • These measurements were strongly predictive of the degree of obesity at six or nine years of age
  • This measurement of the epigenetic change at birth  enabled researchers to predict 25 percent of this variation
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Review Date: 
April 19, 2011
Last Updated:
April 25, 2011