Dieting for Mothers Pregnant with Twins Increase Risk of Diabetes

by Mark Benson on April 3, 2012

Dieting mother makes for diabetes at risk babies

New research published in the online edition of the FASEB Journal found that twins and babies whose mothers had dieted at the time of conception and early pregnancy had greater risk of being obese and developing diabetes as they mature. This study has provided insights on how an individual’s behavior can lead to developmental changes in offspring that result in disease.

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

During the study, the team had conducted experiments using sheep to investigate the workings of twin pregnancies and the effect of altered nutrition at conception and through early pregnancy. The researchers examined the brain tissue of fetal sheep before birth only to find that there were changes in the genetic structure of the controls for food intake and glucose levels. These particular genes, when altered or mutated, would result in the development of obesity and diabetes.

Obesity is characterized by high weight and high body mass index measurements. As an obese person, many other illnesses come to fore, such as cardiovascular issues and metabolic illnesses, primarily diabetes. Diabetes is the condition wherein the body is unable to manage the levels of blood sugar in circulation because of the low levels or lack of the hormone insulin. Obesity may be a result of a genetic condition or a lifestyle that is filled with high cholesterol and high fat diet.

The findings in this study are quite unique as there are many differences found in the genetic structure did not come from hereditary traits in the DNA sequence. Instead, they come from epigenetic changes that alter the structure of the DNA and with it, the proteins, and histones affecting the way the genes behave in their lives.

According to Dr. Gerald Weissmann MD, “This study sows 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.” Dr. Weissmann is the Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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