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Junk food may harm baby

1st July 2008

A study has found that if a woman eats an unhealthy diet while she is pregnant or breastfeeding it could cause harm to her baby.

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The Royal Veterinary College and London's Wellcome Trust study is published in The Journal of Physiology.

The teams studied the babies of rats, which were given fatty food. They discovered that the rats had considerable levels of fat in their blood and surrounding their organs even when they reached puberty.

The rats also had an increased danger of diabetes even if they were fed a healthy diet.

The team have already found that the rat offspring whose mothers were given unhealthy food when they were pregnant had more likelihood of craving unhealthy food themselves.

Dr Stephanie Bayol, one of the researchers, said: "It seems that a mother's diet whilst pregnant and breastfeeding is very important for the long-term health of her child."

"We always say: 'You are what you eat', but in fact it may also be true that you are what your mother ate."

The team discovered the male rats who had unhealthy mothers had increased levels of insulin and normal blood sugar. Female rats did not have increased levels, but weighed more.

Professor Neil Stickland, who also worked on the project, said that the findings could be applicable to humans.

"Humans share a number of fundamental biological systems with rats, so there is good reason to assume the effects we see in rats may be repeated in humans," he said.



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