A bad diet while pregnant may alter her baby’s brain, revealed in a new study, publish in the journal Cell. A team of researchers at Yale University and the Max Planck Institute for Neurological Research in Germany used a mouse model to study how consuming a high-fat diet would impact the baby’s brain per National Monitor. The research showed that such a diet could affect the way the baby’s brain functions, particularly with respect to insulin signaling.
This discovery could explain why the children of obese parents are more likely to become overweight. While this study does have some merit, there are a number of other factors to consider. For example, shared eating habits are a major factor, which shows why entire families are obese even if there is no change to the brain. There is also evidence that a bad diet while pregnant can alter the DNA of the child, increasing his or her waistline. However, again, this does not mean that the signaling functions in the brain have changed.
The biggest limitation to the study was the use of a mouse rather than humans. While it is good to see such a change in mice, there is not much to confirm that this would hold the same in humans. Although the study cannot necessarily link mice to humans, it is remarkable to see that the mice with mothers who had high-fat diets had different metabolic profiles than children of those who did not. Mothers who ate a high-fat diet while their pups were in utero had impaired connections in brain neurons that regulate glucose and help control when they are hungry and full and how fat gets broken down.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that, when pregnant the same general principles of healthy eating remain. Expectant mothers should eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.