Researchers have said that women who become pregnant while they are on a diet could be at a greater risk of having a child that becomes obese or diabetic in later life, and have also potentially uncovered why twins are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes as adults.
The study, carried out at the University of Manchester with colleagues from Canada and New Zealand, and which was published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, examined the effects of twin pregnancies in sheep and the effect of less food on the pregnancies of ewes at the time their lambs were conceived.
The scientists assessed brain tissue from the unborn lambs for changes to the DNA structure that could alter genes involved in food intake and glucose levels after birth. They believe their findings could hold true for humans as well, as they found a non-genetic means by which the DNA of children can be altered.
Researcher Anne White commented “We found that unborn twin lambs had changes in the structure of DNA in the region of the brain that regulates food intake and glucose that resulted in an increased chance of diabetes in adulthood.”
She added “Our findings provide a reason why twins are more likely to get diabetes but we have also shown that mothers who don’t have enough food around the time of conception may have a child who grows up with an increased risk of obesity.”

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