Thursday, December 28, 2006

Diet during pregnancy can change genes for generations

Maternal Diet During Pregnancy Can Impact Offspring For Generations, Study Shows ScienceDaily 12/28/06 "A new study by scientists at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) is the first to show that a mother's diet during pregnancy influences the health of her grandchildren by changing the behavior of a specific gene...In their experiments, the scientists fed some Avy mice a standard lab diet based on common foods consumed by humans. Other mice were fed this same diet supplemented with common nutritional supplements including folate, choline, betaine, vitamin B12, zinc and methionine...The results showed that the supplements changed the behavior of the agouti gene in the first generation of pups, shifting their coats towards a brown color, and had the same effect on pups born in the next generation to mice that were not exposed to the supplemented diet..."Although researchers have long known that there is a connection between a mother's diet and her children's health this is the first case in which the relationship between a mother's diet and the biology of her grandchildren has been mapped to a single gene and a defined diet," said David Martin, M.D., Scientist at CHORI. "Our work provides convincing evidence of complex transgenerational effects of nutrition on health, and provides an experimental model for exploring these relationships in detail."..." it is possible that the maternal diet could have implications that stretch over decades, perhaps even centuries.""

Epigenetics like this makes you wonder if whole sections of a country had their diet changed for a time in the past and their children changed a bit, would anyone notice? With modern industrialized food, fast food, crap snacks etc, and exposure to all sorts of man made chemicals that sometimes have an effect on hormones and maybe genes... would we know if we were changing? These might not be such crazy questions.

The benefits to the mice getting the supplements is that they get less diabetes and cancer. So that's a plus (like folate, B-12 and choline for pregnant moms) but for humanity we have only begun to scratch the surface of what foods do what to genes and what chemicals in our environment might methylate certain genes. Like I said before in a previous post, is there any scientific field as hot as epigenetics?

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