Pregnant women may reduce the health risks for their infants by implementing lifestyle changes

Pregnant women with obesity may decrease the risk of health problems for their infants if conformed to a healthy lifestyle and dietary change, new research by the University of Southampton suggests.

Released in PLOS Medicine, their new findings probed how gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) in pregnant women could affect the infant’s deoxyribonucleic acid.

More than 500 women took part in the study, conducted between 2009 and 2014, as part of the UK Pregnancies Better Eating and Activity Trial. The participants from that randomized controlled trial had cord blood DNA methylation levels examined in over 500 newborn infants.

According to researchers, they determined the following, “Maternal GDM status and high circulating maternal glucose levels were associated with modest changes in DNA methylation in the infants.”

“The methylation changes observed in the infant associated with maternal GDM exposure appeared to be reduced by the pregnancy lifestyle intervention,” they also found.

Overall, the new findings suggest that lifestyle changes could affect the high maternal circulating glucose levels on DNA methylation in the infant. The study was published at a time when obesity during pregnancy is becoming more prevalent and its negative implications cannot be overstated.

“The incidence of gestational diabetes is increasing worldwide, concurrent with a rise in obesity with children born to mothers with gestational diabetes mellitus having a heightened risk of obesity and metabolic disease, perpetuating an intergenerational cycle of metabolic disease,” researchers stated in their publication.

“Further research will be needed to investigate possible medical implications of the findings.”

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