Category Archives: Pregnancy

Dads consuming too much sugar may increase the risk of obesity in their children

High SugarMost research regarding childhood obesity as it relates to parents and pregnancy points to the dietary habits of mothers. We’re actually quite accustomed to moms, as the carriers of their children, as the “important link” to their health. Expectant mothers shouldn’t smoke, shouldn’t consume caffeine, need to be concerned about mercury levels in their diets, need to avoid alcohol, are discouraged from dying their hair … the list grows longer just about every year. And that makes sense. Growing babies receive their nourishment directly from the women in which they develop. And proper development requires some restrictions. We rarely hear about dads in the same manner.

But now there appears to be a link between a father’s sugar consumption just before conception and an increased risk of obesity in his offspring.

A new study shows that increasing sugar in the diet of male fruit flies for just 1 or 2 days before mating can cause obesity in their offspring through alterations that affect gene expression in the embryo. There is also evidence that a similar system regulates obesity susceptibility in mice and humans. The research, which is published online December 4 in the Cell Press journal Cell, provides insights into how certain metabolic traits are inherited and may help investigators determine whether they can be altered.

Research has shown that various factors that are passed on by parents or are present in the uterine environment can affect offspring’s metabolism and body type. Investigators led by Dr. J. Andrew Pospisilik, of the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Germany, and team member Dr. Anita Öst, now at Linkoping University in Sweden, sought to understand whether normal fluctuations in a parent’s diet might have such an impact on the next generation.

Through mating experiments in Drosophila melanogaster, or fruit flies, the scientists found that dietary interventions in males could change the body composition of offspring, with increased sugar leading to obesity in the next generation. High dietary sugar increased gene expression through epigenetic changes, which affect gene activity without changing the DNA’s underlying sequence. “To use computer terms, if our genes are the hardware, our epigenetics is the software that decides how the hardware is used,” explains Dr. Öst. “It turns out that the father’s diet reprograms the epigenetic ‘software’ so that genes needed for fat production are turned on in their sons.”

Because epigenetic programs are somewhat plastic, the investigators suspect that it might be possible to reprogram obese epigenetic programs to lean epigenetic programs. “At the moment, we and other researchers are manipulating the epigenetics in early life, but we don’t know if it is possible to rewrite an adult program,” says Dr. Öst.

The fruit fly models and experiments that the team designed will be valuable resources for the scientific community. Because the flies reproduce quickly, they can allow investigators to quickly map out the details of how nutrition and other environmental stimuli affect epigenetics and whether or not they can be modulated, both early and later in life.

“It’s very early days for our understanding of how parental experiences can stably reprogram offspring physiology, lifelong. The mechanisms mapped here, which seem in some way to be conserved in mouse and man, provide a seed for research that has the potential to profoundly change views and practices in medicine,” says Dr. Pospisilik.

FoodFacts.com found this research exceptionally fascinating. First, it brings fathers directly into the health mix on a different level, clearly stating that their contribution to the developing child goes beyond genetics. And subsequently, the idea that science can use this information to determine whether or not there can be some sort of modulation of these effects may prove to be quite valuable in the war against obesity.

Until that can be determined, it’s probably a good — and simple — idea for dads to limit their sugar intake prior to conception. Moms already give up quite a bit in order to achieve healthy pregnancies. Giving up sugar is surely an easy and temporary sacrifice for fathers to make to contribute to that goal.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/12/141204140737.htm

Excessive weight gain during pregnancy linked to childhood obesity

FoodFacts.com takes enormous interest in the latest information released that may present us with new insights into the obesity crisis. What we’ve been able to determine from the wealth of new studies published in the last few years is that the obesity epidemic is complex and linking its origins to one or two different possible causes can’t even begin to bring us closer to solutions. There are a broad range of factors requiring a multi-faceted approach to reversing and preventing obesity in the future. Today we read new research information linking obesity to pregnancy weight gain.

Women who gain excessive weight during pregnancy are at higher risk of having overweight or obese children, according to a study published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts, conducted a population-based cohort study of 42,133 women who had more than one singleton pregnancy and their 91,045 children.

The study involved matching records of all live births in Arkansas with state-mandated data on childhood body mass index (BMI) and height from public schools between 2003 and 2011.

The researchers wanted to determine whether childhood obesity is due to conditions during pregnancy, which can influence birthweight, or whether other shared mother and child factors, such as genes and diet, play a part.

The results of the study showed that on average, mothers gained around 14 kg in each pregnancy.

Researchers say that for every kilogram of weight a mother gains during pregnancy, at age 12 their child’s BMI will increase by 0.02 kg/m2.

Using a within-family design (testing associations within each family), the researchers found that for every kilogram of weight a mother gained during pregnancy, their child’s BMI would increase by 0.02 kg/m2 (8%) by age 12.

When the researchers adjusted the results for differences in birthweight, this increase in weight still remained significant.

Overall, variations in pregnancy weight gain accounted for a 0.43 kg/m2 difference in childhood BMI. By comparison, there has been an estimated 2 kg/m2 increase in the average BMI of children in the US since the 1970s.

The researchers note that although it would have been useful to include data of the mothers’ pre-pregnancy BMI in this study, this would have differentiated the results further since women with higher BMI tend to gain less weight during pregnancy.

Because childhood body weight predicts adult body weight, the study authors say their findings suggest that overnutrition in pregnancy may program the fetus for an increased lifetime risk for obesity, although the magnitude of this effect may be small.

FoodFacts.com once again wants to emphasize the importance of nutritional awareness for the entire population. Eating well during pregnancy is such an important part of taking care of a mother’s own nutritional needs. While weight gain is an essential part of a healthy pregnancy, excessive weight gain should be avoided – not just for the health of the expectant mother, but also for the health of the child as well.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266807.php

Healthy eating habits are especially important during pregnancy

FoodFacts.com devotes many blog posts to the importance of healthy eating habits. While there are many contributors to the worldwide obesity crisis, we do know with certainty that the prevalence of processed foods and beverages in our diets stands out as one of the significant causes of the current, continually growing problem of obesity. Particularly disturbing among children, rates of obesity keep climbing as healthy dietary habits continue to devolve around the globe. So we continually reiterate the importance of avoiding processed foods and beverages and emphasize the significant health benefits of fresh, whole foods prepared at home.

Today we read about a new study that underscores the importance of healthy eating habits during pregnancy, and the effects of the diets of expectant mothers on the next generation. Researchers have found that mothers who eat junk food while pregnant are more likely to have children with mental health problems.

Researchers from Deakin University in Australia, alongside researchers from Norway, analyzed more than 23,000 mothers who were a part of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort study.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, gathered information regarding the mothers’ diets throughout pregnancy and their children’s diets at both 18 months and 3 years of age.

The mothers were also asked to complete questionnaires when their children were 18 months, 3-years and 5-years-old to establish symptoms of depression, anxiety, conduct disorder and ADHD. The researchers then analyzed the relationship between the mothers’ and children’s diets, and the mental health symptoms and behaviors in the children aged 18 months to five-years-old.

Results of the study reveal that mothers who eat more unhealthy foods during pregnancy, such as sweet drinks, refined cereals and salty foods, have children with increased behavioral problems, such as aggression and tantrums.

Additionally, the findings show that children who eat more unhealthy foods in their first years of life, or who lack nutrient-rich foods such as vegetables, also show increased aggression and behavioral problems, as well as symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Associate professor Felice Jacka, researcher at the IMPACT Strategic Research Center at Deakin University, says: “It is becoming even more clear that diet matters to mental health right across the age spectrum.”

“These new findings suggest that unhealthy and ‘junk’ foods may have an impact on the risk for mental health problems in children, and they add to the growing body of evidence on the impact of unhealthy diets on the risk for depression, anxiety and even dementia. The changes to our food systems, including the shift to more high-energy, low nutrition foods developed and marketed by the processed food industry, have led to a massive increase in obesity-related illnesses right across the globe,” she says.

While there is no need for mothers to go on special diets during pregnancy, it is important to eat a variety of different foods every day to make sure that both mother and child are getting the right balance of nutrients.

Other studies have also suggested potential health risks of eating junk food while pregnant. Animal research from the Royal Veterinary College in London in 2006 suggested a link between unhealthy food during pregnancy and the risk of obesity in offspring.

FoodFacts.com thinks it’s important to note that just as there has been an upswing in childhood obesity rates, there has also been an upswing in childhood depression and behavioral difficulties. While there’s been no definitive link between diet and childhood mental health, it is interesting that both obesity and depression/behavior challenges have risen at the same time that the proliferation of processed foods and beverages in our food supply is higher than it’s ever been. Certainly food for thought. While we want everyone to make the healthiest dietary choices, we want to make sure that expectant mothers everywhere take especially good care of themselves, for both their own well-being and the well-being of their precious children.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265039.php

Pre-natal mercury exposure and autism link refuted

FoodFacts.com is well aware that for years, expectant mothers have been advised to avoid consuming fish with low levels of mercury. There’s been a concern that the chemical may be responsible for behavioral disorders such as autism. With the numerous nutritional benefits fish can bring to both mother and unborn child, we were happy to read some information today that disputes these concerns.

A new study coming out of the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Department of Public Health Sciences, the Seychelles Ministries of Health and Education, and the University of Ulster in Ireland, is reporting that there is no association between pre-natal mercury exposure and autism-like behaviors. The study draws upon more than 30 years of research in the Republic of Seychelles. The Republic of Seychelles is an ideal location to examine the potential health impact of persistent low level mercury exposure. With a population of 87,000 people spread across an archipelago of islands in the Indian Ocean, fishing is a both an important industry and a primary source of nutrition – the nation’s residents consume fish at a rate 10 times greater than the populations of the U.S. and Europe.

The Seychelles Child Development Study – a partnership between URMC, the Seychelles Ministries of Health and Education, and the University of Ulster in Ireland – was created in the mid-1980s to specifically study the impact of fish consumption and mercury exposure on childhood development. The program is one of the largest ongoing epidemiologic studies of its kind.

The study followed 1,784 children, adolescents, young adults and their mothers. Researchers first determined the level of prenatal mercury exposure by analyzing hair samples collect from mothers at the time of birth.

The researchers then used two questionnaires to determine whether or not the study participants were exhibiting autism spectrum-like behaviors. The Social Communication Questionnaire was completed by the children’s parents and the Social Responsiveness Scale was completed by their teachers. These tests – which include questions on language skills, social communication, and repetitive behaviors – do not provide a definitive diagnosis, but they are widely used in the U.S. as an initial screening tool and may suggest the need for additional evaluation.

The mercury levels of the mothers were then matched with the test scores of their children and the researchers found that there was no correlation between prenatal exposure and evidence of autism-spectrum-like behaviors.

There’s been an ongoing debate regarding fish consumption for expectant mothers. There are so many nutritional benefits from fish … vitamin E, lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids (which aid in fetal brain development), to name a few. But at the same time there has been serious concern regarding exposure to mercury and developmental problems for unborn children. Because of this the FDA has recommended that women limit fish consumption during pregnancy. Researchers noted that further study is needed in order to produce conclusive results.

FoodFacts.com looks forward to understanding more about the relationship between mercury and autism-related behaviors, as well as the prenatal benefits of fish consumption. Fish is healthy protein that provides important nutrients for healthy development. We look forward to further research that may possibly add fish back into the pregnancy diet – both for the enjoyment of the mother and the healthy growth of the unborn child.

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/263870.php

Eating healthy fats during pregnancy may decrease autism risk for baby

FoodFacts.com has always been very concerned about the trend steering people away from the consumption of any fats. Fats are actually important for our health and well-being. The trend away from fat consumption can be concerning for many reasons. One of the essential problems with lower fat or fat free products is what manufacturers need to add to ingredient lists to make such products appetizing. And, of course, a problem can ensue with the avoidance of any fat at all. Some fats are good for you.

And a new study strongly suggests that good fats are good for babies growing in their mother’s wombs. Women who eat certain types of healthy fat during pregnancy may reduce their risk of having a child with autism.

In the study, women who consumed high levels of linoleic acid a type of omega-6 fatty acid found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds were 34 percent less likely to give birth to a child with autism compared with women who consumed low levels of the nutrient. The results provide preliminary evidence that increased maternal intake of omega-6 fatty acids could, in fact, reduce the risk of offspring with autism spectrum disorder. It’s important to note that the study found an association – and not a cause-and-effect-link, between a pregnant woman’s fatty-acid consumption and a decreased risk of having a child with autism. While the reason for the link remains unknown and points to the need for further study, researchers note that fatty-acid consumption is important for the brain development of a fetus.

The study found only an association, and not a cause-and-effect link, between pregnant women’s fatty-acid consumption and a decreased risk of having a child with autism. In addition, the study was small, and future research will be needed to confirm the results, the researchers said.

The new study included 317 mothers who had a child with autism and 17,728 mothers who had a child without autism. Participants answered questions about the types of food they ate. The researchers noted that 5,884 women in the study completed the questionnaire during their pregnancy, while the rest completed it within about a year after being pregnant.

The researchers noted that consuming high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids did not further decrease the risk of autism compared with the risk for women who consumed average amounts. This suggests that although getting too little omega-3 fatty acids may increase the risk of autism, once a certain threshold is reached, further consumption doesn’t provide an extra benefit, the researchers said.

The researchers took into account other factors that might have influenced the risk of autism, such as the mother’s age, total calorie intake and smoking status during pregnancy. But it’s possible that other factors not included in the study may explain the link.

FoodFacts.com wants to encourage all of us to feel good about consuming healthy fats. Nutritional awareness is such an important concept for all of us. And this new study points out that it’s even more important for expectant mothers to understand the nutritional importance of the foods they consume.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/07/02/eating-healthy-fats-during-pregnancy-may-reduce-baby-autism-risk/#ixzz2Y2WeiKAr

BPA …it’s even bad for babies before they’re born

FoodFacts.com has been examining a lot of new information on BPA. Bisphenol A has been banned for use in baby bottles and sippy cups here in the U.S., but still remains (unless removed voluntarily) in canned products and other plastics. Regardless of the amount of information being uncovered regarding the negative health impacts of BPA, our country has continued to allow its use in a variety of products.

Today we found more research from the Netherlands that has discovered that the chemical may impact the health of newborn babies.

The study involved the collection of urine samples from pregnant mothers at different stages of their pregnancies. They compared the BPA levels in those samples to their babies growth rate in the womb as well as their developing head circumferences. We know that a small head circumference can imply that a baby’s brain isn’t developing as quickly as it should. A slow rate of growth can lead to a low-birth-weight baby and low-birth-weight babies are more likely to develop delays than those born at a normal weight.

All the women involved in the study had relatively common levels of BPA. However, it was noted that the women showing the highest BPA levels were carrying babies that grew about 20 percent slower in utero than the women who had the lowest levels. The head circumferences of the babies whose mothers showed the highest levels of exposure were also about 11 percent smaller.

BPA is a known endocrine disruptor. It acts like estrogen in the body. It’s been linked to asthma as well as the impairment of neurological development in children. Because its use is so widespread, most people have constant low levels of the chemical in their bodies. Complete avoidance is almost impossible to achieve.

It’s true that the FDA has banned BPA from baby bottles and toddler cups, but this study shows that, in fact, those bans are not protecting our children at all. BPA can actually cause damage to babies while they are still in the womb. And because it’s so difficult to avoid the chemical, babies are really at risk.

While we can’t rid our country of BPA, we can certainly reduce our exposure by eliminating those things we have some control over. FoodFacts.com encourages everyone in our community and those in their networks to purchase canned foods carefully. Manufacturers who have voluntarily eliminated BPA from their canned products are usually very forthcoming about it on their websites and in the news. And when you’re storing beverages or foods, find containers that do not contain the chemical. While we may not be able to avoid BPA completely, we can make enough changes in our households to make sure that we keep levels as low as possible to minimize the dangers we learn more about every day.

Read more here: http://www.rodale.com/bpa-and-pregnancy

Obesity may pose brain development risks for newborns

FoodFacts.com tries to keep our community informed about the latest news regarding the obesity epidemic plaguing the United States and the rest of the world. There’s been so much news in recent months about the causes and effects of obesity. And today, we found new information regarding the risks to babies of obese moms.

It appears that genes found in the amniotic fluid of obese pregnant women suggest that the brains of their babies are developing differently than the babies of mothers of typical weight. With about one-third of American women suffering from obesity when they become pregnant, this is of particular concern.

A new study from Tufts University in Boston extends information found in previous research that sought to pinpoint differences in the fetuses of typical-weight and obese women. Such studies have found an association between a mother’s obesity and autism and ADHD in their children.

As a fetus develops, its brain cells don’t just multiply … some of them also die. It’s a necessary process that rids the growing brain of unnecessary cells. That process is called apoptosis. Research in rats has shown brain differences (including apoptosis) between the fetuses of obese and normal-weight rodents.

This new, small study looked for changes like this in the amniotic fluid of human mothers. The amniotic fluid gives scientists an important view of fetal brain development.

Researchers analyzed the amniotic fluid samples from 8 women who were obese according to their body mass index (BMI) and 8 women of typical weight. Each of these women had undergone an amniocentesis for unrelated reasons. Both groups of women were of similar ages and at the same stages in their pregnancies. In total, between both groups, the mothers were carrying 4 male and 4 female fetuses.

The analysis showed that in the amniotic fluid samples of obese women, the genes identified favored decreased apoptosis. So the appropriate death of some of the developing fetus’s brain cells was lower for the obese mothers’ fluid samples.

This new study was very small, so it’s much too early to conclude that the brains of babies born to obese women are abnormal. Researchers noted that the next best step is to compare brain images of the developing fetuses of obese and typical-weight mothers in order to get a clearer view of the effects of the observations.

Regardless of the small size of the study, or further steps taken to arrive at more certain conclusions, FoodFacts.com wants to emphasize that obesity’s affects are many, varied and severe. And this research points out that those affects may not be limited simply to the obese person. Share this with anyone in your network who you feel may benefit from it. And read much more here: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/779429