Poor maternal diet can increase risk of diabetes for children

Wed, 09 Mar 2011
A new study has found a link between a mother's poor diet during pregnancy and their children facing an increased risk of being diabetic later in their life. The research, by scientists at the University of Cambridge, found that an imbalanced maternal diet could lead to a specific gene associated with insulin production in the child being compromised.

The findings, which support the need for a healthy diet during pregnancy, were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and revealed a reason why a poor diet affects children years later, explaining that the gene, Hnf4a, is believed to be a factor in the development of the pancreas and in insulin production in the child.

Laboratory rats that were tested with a diet short in protein were shown to have an increased rate of type 2 diabetes in their offspring, which was expected, but it was also revealed that the Hnf4a gene in the offspring seemed to be switched off as the rats got older. The researchers claim that this gene silencing could be the cause of diabetes, as well as resulting from the maternal diet.

Susan Ozanne, study leader, commented "Having a healthy well-balanced diet any time in your life is important for your health. But a healthy well-balanced diet during pregnancy is particularly important because of the impact on the baby long-term and potentially even on the grandchildren as well."
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