Maternal Epigenetics

If you or someone you know is pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant now, in the near future or ever, please read this primer on Maternal Epigenetics

If postnatal nutrition is abundant, then the programmed metabolic adaptations that occur in utero will become detrimental and likely result in excess energy storage, altered body composition (e.g. increased fat mass: lean mass), altered postnatal growth and subsequent metabolic dysfunction in later life.”

The fetal origins of obesity: early origins of altered food intake

What does this mean for your child?

  • Mother’s weight associated with altered methylation pattern in the child’s DNA and later infant adiposity.
  • Higher birth weight directly correlated to higher BMI in later life.
  • Offspring born of gestational diabetes mellitus pregnancies are more likely to develop childhood and adult obesity and type 2 diabetes. (Also 1.4x more likely to develop obesity for every 2.2 lb increment in birth weight)
  • Maternal overweight/obesity carries increased risk in the offspring of impaired neurodevelopmental outcome (cognitive problems, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and psychotic disorders) asthma, schizophrenia, insulin resistance, hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke and even death.

Pre-Pregnancy Body Mass Index in Relation to Infant Birth Weight and Offspring Overweight/Obesity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

What can you do?

  • Get to a healthy weight (BMI) now before you get pregnant, start trying or even consider it.
  • Also noteworthy: obese mothers who bore children after having bariatric surgery lowered their offspring’s obesity rate by 50% (to the same as the general population levels)
  • These same offspring also improved their cardiometabolic risk profiles compared to their siblings who were born to the same mothers but pre surgery.

Large maternal weight loss from obesity surgery prevents transmission of obesity to children who were followed for 2 to 18 years.

Differential methylation in glucoregulatory genes of offspring born before vs. after maternal gastrointestinal bypass surgery.

Take home points: Nature v Nurture? You are not necessarily destined to your DNA. Lifestyle and healthy living will always impact your health positively.

View the group post to join the discussion.

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