What you mother ate during pregnancy decides your health

Washington, April 14 (Inditop) What your mother ate during pregnancy determines your present condition, whether you are healthy or sick, smaller or larger than your counterparts.

For instance, rat foetuses receiving poor nutrition in the womb become genetically primed to be born into an environment lacking proper nutrition, said scientists from the University of Utah.

Consequently, they were likely to be smaller in size than their counterparts. The rats were also at lifelong risk from diabetes, growth retardation, cardiovascular disease, obesity, among others.

Although the study involved rats, the genes and cellular mechanisms involved are the same as those in humans. The new science of epigenetics explains how genes can be modified by the environment.

“Our study emphasises that maternal-foetal health influences multiple healthcare issues across generations,” said Robert Lane, professor of paediatric neonatology at the University of Utah, and a senior researcher involved in the study.

“To reduce adult diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, we need to understand how the maternal-foetal environment influences the health of offspring,” he said.

The scientists made this discovery through experiments involving two groups of rats, said a Utah release.

“The new ‘epigenetics’ has taught us how nature is changed by nurture,” said Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of The Faseb Journal, which published the study.