Eating unhealthily while you’re pregnant reduces your baby’s ability to store fats in the correct parts of the body. This raises your child’s risk of getting diabetes and other age-related diseases when they’re older, research has found.
Results of the research, carried out by Cambridge and Leicester Universities, could help experts determine which people are more at risk of developing diabetes and to design new treatments.
“One of the ways that our bodies cope with a rich modern western diet is by storing excess calories in fat cells,” said researcher Professor Anne Willis.
“When these cells aren’t able to absorb the excess then fats get deposited in other places, like the liver where they are much more dangerous and can lead to type 2 diabetes,” explained Professor Anne.
The study found that those who were exposed to a bad diet in the womb had higher levels of a molecule called mir-483-3p in their body. Researchers linked this molecule to the development of smaller fat cells that are less able to store fat properly in later stages in life.
“It has been known for a while that your mother’s diet during pregnancy plays an important role in your adult health, but the mechanisms in the body that underlie this aren’t well understood,” said Dr Susan Ozanne, who led the study.