Diet and Pregnancy -Silencing the Lambs

Holy Hormones Journal:  A unique experiment in nature? Revealing that a mother’s diet before she conceives will influence the health of her unborn child? This is women’s wisdom. I can hear my grandmother rolling in her grave.  Of course, the quality of a woman’s nutritional reserves is going to affect the long-term health of their children.

Just open your eyes the next time you go into the mall, or a fast food restaurant. There is ample evidence of that.  No doubt women in the ‘industrialized’ world are in big trouble.

According to the World Socialist Web Site“The US has by far the highest first-day death rate in the industrialized world. The report states, “An estimated 11,300 newborn babies die each year in the United States on the day they are born. This is 50 percent more first-day deaths than all other industrialized countries combined.” The 33 other industrialized countries for which data was collected recorded a combined total of 7,500 first-day deaths each year.”

Mother’s diet affects the ‘silencing’ of her child’s genes

ScienceDaily
April 29, 2014
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Summary: A unique ‘experiment of nature’ that took place in The Gambia has now revealed that a mother’s diet before she conceives has a permanent effect on her offspring’s genetics. This is the first time the effect has been seen in humans, and is regarded as a major contribution to the field of ‘epigenetics.’

mothers dietA mother’s diet before conception can permanently affect how her child’s genes function, according to a study published in Nature Communications.

The first such evidence of the effect in humans opens up the possibility that a mother’s diet before pregnancy could permanently affect many aspects of her children’s lifelong health.

Researchers from the MRC International Nutrition Group, based at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and MRC Unit, The Gambia, utilized a unique ‘experiment of nature’ in rural Gambia, where the population’s dependence on own grown foods and a markedly seasonal climate impose a large difference in people’s dietary patterns between rainy and dry seasons.

Through a selection process involving over 2,000 women, the researchers enrolled pregnant women who conceived at the peak of the rainy season (84 women) and the peak of the dry season (83 women). By measuring the concentrations of nutrients in their blood, and later analysing blood and hair follicle samples from their 2-8 month old infants, they found that a mother’s diet before conception had a significant effect on the properties of her child’s DNA.

While a child’s genes are inherited directly from their parents, how these genes are expressed is controlled through ‘epigenetic’ modifications to the DNA. One such modification involves tagging gene regions with chemical compounds called methyl groups and results in silencing the genes. The addition of these compounds requires key nutrients including folate, vitamins B2, B6 and B12, choline and methionine.

Experiments in animals have already shown that environmental influences before conception can lead to epigenetic changes that affect the offspring. A 2003 study found that a female mouse’s diet can change her offspring’s coat colour by permanently modifying DNA methylation.1 But until this latest research, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the MRC, it was unknown whether such effects also occur in humans.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.