Change Diet Before Pregnancy for Healthier Kids

Deborah Shipley's picture

According to a recent research collaborative, women who change their diets and lose fat before getting pregnant give their babies a chance for improved lifelong health while also breaking the generational cycle of obesity.

Obesity is a growing epidemic being faced today. There are increasing numbers of women entering pregnancy with obesity as well as children facing the challenges of being obese early on in life.

The Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Research at the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC) at San Antonio and the National Institute of Nutrition in Mexico City joined together to study the effects of changing the diet one month prior to mating and continuing the same diet during pregnancy and lactation. They concluded that if obese mothers lose body fat before they even become pregnant, their children will then benefit from these dietary changes.

The study was conducted on female rats and their male offspring. The female rats were split into two groups. the first group was raised on and continued to eat a high-fat diet through all stages of pre-conception through lactation. The other group was switched to a lower fat diet one month before mating. The male offspring in the higher fat group were found to have higher levels of triglycerides, leptin, insulin and insulin resistance at the weaning stage. In the group that consumed lower fat diets, thus losing body fat before pregnancy, the babies had normal levels of triglycerides, leptin, insulin.


Additionally, they found that those born to mothers with the lower fat diets, had a significant decrease in fat mass and fat cell size than those born to the higher fat group.

Dr Peter Nathanielsz, a professor in UTHSC's Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Research says, "That is what we mean when we say that the effects are transgenerational. Leptin levels were normal in the offspring of the intervention group, showing that we can break this cycle."

The researchers told the public that this was the first research that suggests that the effects the changing of the maternal diet before pregnancy can reverse the metabolic effects of their offspring.

Nathanielsz also added that, ""We believe this sort of information is necessary to provide guidelines as to the type of dietary intervention for women during pregnancy. Much remains to be done."

For more information on healthy maternal nutrition visit: CHOP