July 14/Washington/Indo-Asian News Service -- Female mice fed high-fat diets were more likely to have oversized offspring, because fat causes the placenta to go into "overdrive" by providing too many nutrients to the fetus.
The reverse may be equally true. High-fat diets may help prevent undersized babies, according to a study by researchers from University of Cincinnati and Medical College of Georgia, said a joint press release from both. "Our model may one day lead to dietary recommendations for mothers who are entering pregnancy overweight or obese," said Helen N. Jones, co-author of the study. "We hope this research will ultimately help reduce the number of babies suffering from birth injuries, decrease C-section rates, and lower the risk of babies becoming overweight or obese later in life."
Researchers fed one group of mice a normal diet and another group a higher fat diet for eight weeks. Then the mice were mated. At the end of each mouse's pregnancy, the offspring were delivered by C-section and weighed along with their placentas. The scientists then took blood from the mothers and measured the ability of the placenta to transport nutrients to the babies.
"It's no secret that big women tend to have big babies," said Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, "but now we know that there's more at play than genetics. Cutting back on fatty foods during pregnancy might decrease the chance of having a baby that becomes overweight in the future."
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about a third of adult men and women, and 16.3% of children and youth in the U.S. are obese. These findings were published online in The FASEB Journal.
From the July 20, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition