Wednesday, April 20. 2011
What a woman eats during pregnancy can affect her child's risk of obesity, even if the baby is at a normal weight at birth, according to a new international study.
The study, published in the journal Diabetes, found that a process known as epigenetic change can alter the function of an unborn child's DNA in response to changes in the mother's diet. According to researchers, those changes can be detected by sampling the umbilical cord at birth for the epigenetic markers of obesity risk.
Researchers found that mothers with early pregnancy diets low in carbohydrates such as sugars and starch had children with those markers, and discovered there was a strong link between those same markers and a child's obesity at ages six and nine.
Keith Godfrey, a professor at the University of Southampton and the lead author of the study told the BBC that the results suggest women should follow the diet advice they receive during pregnancy as it may have a long term influence on their child's health.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says pregnant women should consume foods that are high in essential vitamins and minerals, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. The agency also said women should avoid foods with an abundance of sugars and solid fats like sodas, fried foods and whole milk.
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