Babies of mothers who diet around the time of conception in early pregnancy, may likely to have an increased risk of obesity and diabetes in later life, suggests a new research. The study offers exciting insights into how behavior can escort to epigenetic changes in children associated with obesity and disease.
To make this discovery, a team led by Anne White PH.D from the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester in Manchester, UK, carried out a study on sheep to examine twin pregnancies and the effects of shifting nutrition about the time of conception and early pregnancy.
They particularly examine the brain tissue of foetal sheep prior to birth. They found that there were changes in the genes which control food intake and glucose levels that may lead to obesity and diabetes. These are distinctive findings as the differences found in the genes are not inherited alteration in sequence of DNA.
However, to a certain extent, these were epigenetic changes with alterations in the structure of the DNA and its associated proteins, histones, that affecting the way that genes can perform in later life. The researchers believe their findings are pertinent to humans because they found an epigenetic way in which the DNA of offspring can be altered.
Study author Prof White, stated the findings provide a reason why twins are more likely to get diabetes but they have also shown that mothers who do not have enough food around the time of conception may have a child who grows up with an increased risk of obesity. The study was published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.
This is significant study because it shows that factors in the brain can be changed by non-hereditary mechanisms and results in changes in the body, which could make people obese. This provides a new understanding of why twins can develop diabetes and also suggests that dieting around the time a baby is conceived may increase the chance of the adult obesity, added Prof White.
Increasingly people are becoming obese and diabetic, while rates of twins are gradually rising because women have babies at older ages and rates of conception with the help of artificial reproductive technologies are increasing. Besides, dieting in young women is also very common and can crop up in women who may not know they are pregnant.