Researchers probe how poor diet impacts offspring later in life
Can we determine the risk of heart disease and diabetes in later life? A British team of researchers has launched a study to investigate whether small blood vessels could help us identify the risk of these disorders. Experts believe eating right during pregnancy positively affects the health of the baby. Consuming fatty foods during pregnancy, for instance, has the potential to affect the offspring in later life.
Past studies have focused on the impact of a mother's diet on the function of large blood vessels in her offspring. But researchers from the University of Southampton and King's College London, led by Professor Geraldine Clough at Southampton, are examining how a high-fat diet during pregnancy impacts the small blood vessel network, which is called 'microcirculation'. In this study, the researchers will shed light on whether small blood vessels are affected by a mother's poor diet during pregnancy.
'These small blood vessels, which are 10 times smaller than a human hair, provide vital organs such as the heart, brain and muscles with important nutrients and oxygen,' said Professor Clough. 'They are known to be altered in adult diseases such as obesity and diabetes but it is not known how they are influenced by maternal diet and so this work will give further insight into how an adverse high fat diet during pregnancy can increase the risk of adult disease in offspring.
'Secondly, since this microcirculation can be easily (and non-invasively) measured in humans then our study will inform us about how we can better use such measurements to give improved advice to children, mothers and women of child bearing age.'
Commenting on the study, Dr Shannon Amoils, a research advisor at the British Heart Foundation, which is funding the study, said the more than GBP 100,000 project would: ' help us gain a greater insight into how a child's health can be affected by their mother's diet during pregnancy. We know that if a mother eats a healthy diet during pregnancy, the benefits for her child can continue - even into adulthood and middle age. This research in mice is looking at how the function of small blood vessels is affected by a poor maternal diet. This could help explain how eating poorly in pregnancy increases the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, like high blood pressure and diabetes, in the offspring in later life.'
Data Source Provider: University of Southampton
Document Reference: Based on information from the University of Southampton
Subject Index: Coordination, Cooperation; Life Sciences; Medicine, Health; Scientific Research