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Wednesday 19th June 2019

Mother's diet during pregnancy can alter child's DNA

19th April 2011

Researchers have found that what a woman eats during her pregnancy could change her unborn child's DNA and heighten the danger of obesity.


The research, which is due to be published in the Diabetes journal, revealed that consuming low amounts of carbohydrate altered DNA.

The researchers then found that children who had these alterations were heavier.

The British Heart Foundation said pregnant women should receive improved nutrition and lifestyle advice.

It is believed that when a foetus is developing in the womb it attempts to gauge what sort of environment is outside and adjusts its DNA accordingly.

Animal research has shown that diet can change the way genes work, which is known as epigenetic change.

This study examined umbilical cord samples in order to investigate epigenetic markers.

The research revealed that women whose diets in early pregnancy had been low in carbohydrates had children with these markers.

There was a strong link between the markers and a child's risk of obesity at the ages of six and nine.

Professor Keith Godfrey, from the University of Southampton and the study's leader, said: "What is surprising is that it explains a quarter of the difference in the fatness of children six to nine years later."

He added: "It is both a fascinating and potentially important piece of research. All women who become pregnant get advice about diet, but it is not always high up the agenda of health professionals."

"The research suggests women should follow the advice as it may have a long term influence on the baby's health after it is born."


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