Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Parenting from before conception: Babies' health doesn't 'start from scratch'

Date:
August 14, 2014
Source:
University of Adelaide
Summary:
There's now overwhelming evidence that a child's future health is influenced by more than just their parents' genetic material, and that children born of unhealthy parents will already be pre-programmed for greater risk of poor health, according to researchers. "The reality is, the child doesn't quite start from scratch -- they already carry over a legacy of factors from their parents' experiences that can shape development in the fetus and after birth. Depending on the situation, we can give our children a burden before they've even started life," experts say.

"A few lifestyle changes by potential parents and improvements in the right direction, especially in the months leading up to conception, could have a lasting, positive benefit for the future of their child," a researcher says.
Credit: 2jenn / Fotolia

There's now overwhelming evidence that a child's future health is influenced by more than just their parents' genetic material, and that children born of unhealthy parents will already be pre-programmed for greater risk of poor health, according to University of Adelaide researchers.

In a feature paper called "Parenting from before conception" published in the journal Science, researchers at the University's Robinson Research Institute say environmental factors prior to conception have more influence on the child's future than previously thought.

"This really is a new frontier for reproductive and developmental research," says corresponding author and Director of the University's Robinson Research Institute, Professor Sarah Robertson.

"It's only been in the last 10 years that the science community has been seriously discussing these issues, and only in the last five years that we've begun to understand the mechanisms of how this is happening -- with much of the work conducted right here at the University of Adelaide."

The paper concludes that parental influences on a child begin before conception, because stored environmental factors in the egg and sperm are contributing more than just genetic material to the child.

"Many things we do in the lead up to conceiving is having an impact on the future development of the child -- from the age of the parents, to poor diet, obesity, smoking and many other factors, all of which influence environmental signals transmitted into the embryo," Professor Robertson says.

"People used to think that it didn't matter, because a child represented a new beginning, with a fresh start. The reality is, we can now say with great certainty that the child doesn't quite start from scratch -- they already carry over a legacy of factors from their parents' experiences that can shape development in the fetus and after birth. Depending on the situation, we can give our children a burden before they've even started life."

This includes a higher risk of metabolic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The likelihood of conditions like anxiety and immune dysfunction can also be affected.

Professor Robertson says current research is also showing that the fathers have a much greater role to play in this than previously thought.

Professor Robertson says this news is not all doom and gloom for would-be parents. "A few lifestyle changes by potential parents and improvements in the right direction, especially in the months leading up to conception, could have a lasting, positive benefit for the future of their child," she says.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. M. Lane, R. L. Robker, S. A. Robertson. Parenting from before conception. Science, 2014; 345 (6198): 756 DOI: 10.1126/science.1254400

Cite This Page:

University of Adelaide. "Parenting from before conception: Babies' health doesn't 'start from scratch'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140814191347.htm>.
University of Adelaide. (2014, August 14). Parenting from before conception: Babies' health doesn't 'start from scratch'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140814191347.htm
University of Adelaide. "Parenting from before conception: Babies' health doesn't 'start from scratch'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140814191347.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

How The 'Angelina Jolie Effect' Increased Cancer Screenings

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) Angelina's Jolie's decision to undergo a preventative mastectomy in 2013 inspired many women to seek early screenings for the disease. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Cost of Ebola

The Cost of Ebola

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 18, 2014) As Sierra Leone prepares for a three-day "lockdown" in its latest bid to stem the spread of Ebola, Ciara Lee looks at the financial implications of fighting the largest ever outbreak of the disease. Video provided by Reuters
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