Dieting during Pregnancy & Risks for Offspring

bf4386f1-d7f2-4cac-b435-2a6e08ad8737Every pregnancy is an eventful journey… Most of you are now familiar with the health risks that obesity can cause. Even being slightly overweight can put you at risk for a number of serious illnesses, including arthritis, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. But did you know that being obese during pregnancy can also put you and your child at risk for severe pregnancy and health-related complications? If you are suffering from obesity, find out about the possible pregnancy health risks you face and the steps that you can take to reduce your risks.

Almost all medical experts condemn dieting during pregnancy. That’s because dieting can affect the quality of nutrition a baby receives. However, obese women have traditionally been encouraged to lose some weight or at least maintain their weight while pregnant. Is this wise advice?

Normal-Weight Women and Dieting

Women who are not obese are not encouraged to go on a pregnancy diet in order to avoid having a negative impact on their baby cause by a lack of nutrition during pregnancy.

Quoted by Medical News Today: “If you’re expecting, this might make you feel a little better about reaching for that pint of ice cream: New research published online in the FASEB Journal suggests that twins, and babies of mothers who diet around the time of conception and in early pregnancy, may have an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes throughout their lives. This study provides exciting insights into how behavior can lead to epigenetic changes in offspring related to obesity and disease.

“This study may provide a new understanding of why twins can develop diabetes,” said Anne White, Ph.D., study author from the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester in Manchester, UK. “It also suggests that dieting around the time a baby is conceived may increase the chance of the child becoming obese later in life.”

To make this discovery, White and colleagues conducted experiments involving sheep to investigate twin pregnancies and the effects of altering nutrition around the time of conception and early pregnancy. Specifically, scientists examined the brain tissue of fetal sheep before birth and found that there were changes in the genes that control food intake and glucose levels that may lead to obesity and diabetes. These findings are unique because the differences found in the genes are not inherited changes in the DNA sequence, but rather, epigenetic changes with alterations in the structure of the DNA and its associated proteins, histones, which affects the way that genes can behave in later life.

This study shows that expecting mothers have to walk a really fine line when it comes to diet and nutrition. It also shows that epigenetics is the ‘new genetics’: both our DNA and the histones in which it is wrapped are susceptible to binge eating and dieting – we are what our mothers ate.”

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