Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New link between mother's pregnancy diet and offspring's chances of obesity found

Date:
April 20, 2011
Source:
University of Southampton
Summary:
Scientists have discovered that a mother's nutrition during pregnancy can strongly influence her child's risk of obesity many years later, by altering their DNA.

Scientists have discovered that a mother's nutrition during pregnancy can strongly influence her child's risk of obesity many years later.

An international study, led by University of Southampton researchers and including teams from New Zealand and Singapore, has shown for the first time that during pregnancy, a mother's diet can alter the function of her child's DNA. The process, called epigenetic change, can lead to her child tending to lay down more fat. Importantly, the study shows that this effect acts independently of how fat or thin the mother is and of child's weight at birth.

Keith Godfrey, Professor of Epidemiology and Human Development at the University of Southampton, who led the study, says: "We have shown for the first time that susceptibility to obesity cannot simply be attributed to the combination of our genes and our lifestyle, but can be triggered by influences on a baby's development in the womb, including what the mother ate. A mother's nutrition while pregnant can cause important epigenetic changes that contribute to her offspring's risk of obesity during childhood."

Researchers measured epigenetic changes in nearly 300 children at birth and showed that these strongly predicted the degree of obesity at six or nine years of age. What was surprising to the researchers was the size of the effect -- children vary in how fat they are, but measurement of the epigenetic change at birth allowed the researchers to predict 25 per cent of this variation.

The study was primarily funded by the UK Medical Research Council (MRC), the National Institute for Health Research, WellChild (previously Children Nationwide), Arthritis Research UK and the University of Southampton.

The epigenetic changes, which alter the function of our DNA without changing the actual DNA sequence inherited from the mother and father, can also influence how a person responds to lifestyle factors such as diet or exercise for many years to come.

"This study indicates that measures to prevent childhood obesity should be targeted on improving a mother's nutrition and her baby's development in the womb. These powerful new epigenetic measurements might prove useful in monitoring the health of the child," adds Professor Godfrey.

Mark Hanson, British Heart Foundation Professor and Director of the University of Southampton's Human Development and Health Unit and one of the research team explains: "This study provides compelling evidence that epigenetic changes, at least in part, explain the link between a poor start to life and later disease risk. It strengthens the case for all women of reproductive age having greater access to nutritional, education and lifestyle support to improve the health of the next generation, and to reduce the risk of the conditions such as diabetes and heart disease which often follow obesity."

Research team member Sir Peter Gluckman FRS of the Liggins Institute at the University of Auckland and the Singapore Institute of Clinical Sciences comments: "This study provides the most compelling evidence yet that just focusing on interventions in adult life will not reverse the epidemic of chronic diseases, not only in developed societies but in low socio-economic populations too."

The study team are part of an international consortium involving the Universities of Southampton and Singapore, the Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, the Liggins Institute of the University of Auckland, AgResearch New Zealand and the Medical Research Council Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton.

Professor Cyrus Cooper, who directs the MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, says: "MRC population-based studies have shown that early life factors influence risk of disease many years later. Now we can begin to see the mechanisms by which this happens, opening up new avenues for medical research and interventions."

Their findings are being published April 26, 2011 in the printed journal Diabetes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southampton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. K. M. Godfrey, A. Sheppard, P. D. Gluckman, K. A. Lillycrop, G. C. Burdge, C. McLean, J. Rodford, J. L. Slater-Jefferies, E. Garratt, S. R. Crozier, B. S. Emerald, C. R. Gale, H. M. Inskip, C. Cooper, M. A. Hanson. Epigenetic Gene Promoter Methylation at Birth Is Associated With Child's Later Adiposity. Diabetes, 2011; DOI: 10.2337/db10-0979

Cite This Page:

University of Southampton. "New link between mother's pregnancy diet and offspring's chances of obesity found." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110418114210.htm>.
University of Southampton. (2011, April 20). New link between mother's pregnancy diet and offspring's chances of obesity found. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110418114210.htm
University of Southampton. "New link between mother's pregnancy diet and offspring's chances of obesity found." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110418114210.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Freetown a City on Edge

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Residents of Sierra Leone's capital voice their fears as the Ebola virus sweeps through west Africa. Duration: 00:56 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

101-Year-Old Working Man Has All The Advice You Need

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Herman Goldman has worked at the same lighting store for almost 75 years. Find out his secrets to a happy, productive life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

American Ebola Patient Apparently Improving, Outbreak Is Not

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) Nancy Writebol, an American missionary who contracted Ebola, is apparently getting better, according to her husband. The outbreak, however, is not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins