Diet During Pregnancy Can Influence A Child’s DNA

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Scientific research will never cease to amaze me. New and amazing things are being thought of, researched, and created every day.

The importance of a healthy diet will never cease to amaze me, either.

I came across a new study conducted by Andrew Prentice and researchers published in Nature Communciations. This study was focused in The Gambia, located in West Africa, involving 2000 women. The women were split in two groups with different diets. The blood of the mothers was analyzed for nutrient content during pregnancy, and the blood and hair follicles of their infants were also analyzed.

The outcome?

They found that a mother’s diet before conception had a significant effect on the properties of her child’s DNA.

Now, I think at first that sounds a little scary. Reading more of the article, they go on to explain that DNA is indeed altered during pregnancy to begin with. It is certain modifications that dictate which genes are expressed and which genes are silenced. For this process to happen normally, the mother should have a certain balance of nutrients, vitamins, amino acids, etc.

Although they know now that diet can affect DNA in humans, they don’t yet know any implications, just that diet will influence how genes are expressed, which have life-long effects. Prentice does express some concern that nutrient deficiencies could lead to disease. Their ongoing research would include a framework for an ‘optimal diet’ for expecting mothers that could prevent any defects in the gene expression process.

I don’t believe the authors intend to scare anyone with this article, just to make us aware. Their ongoing research could conclude that disease isn’t effected by nutrition, but it shouldn’t be something to disregard. Not only during a pregnancy, but pre-conception as well. I also think it would be interesting to see a study like this conducted in America. The people in The Gambia grow their own crops – which is a far cry different from how many Americans eat today.

Now, I have never been pregnant or tried to get pregnant so I have no idea how doctors advice a mother-to-be to eat. I can only imagine they encourage healthy eating as much as possible!

But, I’m curious.

For those of you who have, what type of nutritional advice to doctors give you when trying to conceive?

For more on this article, see Mother’s Diet Modifies Her Child’s DNA. The publication is found at Nature Communications.

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