New Research Suggests That Women Who Become Pregnant While Dieting Are More Likely to Have a Child Who May Become Obese in Later Life.
New research has found that if you become pregnant whilst you are dieting, you are more likely to have a child that may become obese or develop diabetes in later life.
As with many of these type of studies, scientists from the University of Manchester used sheep for their research but they think that many of their findings may be the case in humans too. The study also looked at why twins can be more susceptible to developing Type 2 Diabetes in later life.
The team investigated twin pregnancies in sheep, as well as the pregnancies of ewes where there was less food available to them around the time the lamb was conceived.
The scientists then looked at glucose levels in the brains of the unborn lambs to see if the DNA structure involved in food intake was altered.
Professor of endocrine sciences Anne White said: "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."
"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."
The research was also carried out in New Zealand and Canada.
This study is important as it could provide a plan of action for women's eating habits when they are planning to start a family and therefore reduce the risk of obesity or diabetes in their future children's lives.
Professor White added: "This is not an inherited change in the genes but a change in the structure of the DNA that affects the genes, and therefore much more unusual.
"What is significant is that the changes we have found are in genes that control food intake and glucose levels and alterations in these genes may lead to obesity and diabetes.
"Our study is important because it shows that factors in the brain can be altered by non-hereditary mechanisms and this results in changes in the body, which could make people obese.
"The findings may provide a new understanding of why twins can develop diabetes and also suggests that dieting around the time a baby is conceived may increase the chance of the child becoming obese later in life."
Also this week the NHS has revealed that they are giving obese pregnant women diabetes drugs to prevent their babies from being born obese. Obesity is soaring amongst pregnant women. This is the first trial of it's kind to try and treat obesity and related disease such as diabetes from inside the womb.
The drug being given to obese pregnant women is Metformin, This drug has been used widely amongst diabetics for many years and with good results. The drug works by lowering the levels of insulin in the blood. It is believed that giving it to pregnant women will stop the formation of fat around the baby's liver and other organs.
The trial has been funded by the Medical Research Council. They have given Metformin to 400 obese pregnant women from Liverpool, Coventry, Sheffield and Edinburgh . This is expected to be extended across other parts of the UK in the next 5 years.
Professor Jane Norman, a researcher from Edinburgh University said, “One of the challenges is that many women feel perfectly healthy but there is very good evidence that women who are obese have an increased risk of pregnancy problems and their babies are at risk, and we'd like to reduce that risk.”