What a woman eats BEFORE she becomes pregnant affects her child’s health for life.
It is great to see that this type of research is becoming main stream. The American College of Obstetricains and Gynaecology strongly recommend this approach.
The opinion of Prof. D.J.P. Barker of the University of Southampton, must not be overlooked here either in a study that was conducted in the University of Southampton. I quote “ Protecting the nutrition and health of girls and young women should be the cornerstone of public health. Not only will this prevent chronic disease, but it will produce new generations who have better health and well-being through their lives.”
“With these concepts in mind it becomes imperative that for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child as the outcome of the pregnancy, it becomes of paramount importance that the potential mother looks after her nutrition as perfectly as she can, even before pregnancy,” said Dr. David Smallbone, M.B., Ch.B., L.R.C.P., M.R.C.S., M.F. Hom., F.C.O.H..
To pin down the effect of a mother’s diet on health, Professor Prentice studied women in rural West Africa, where the marked seasons lead to distinct changes in the foods eaten.
Working with colleagues from the Medical Research Council, he measured the concentration of various nutrients in the blood of nearly 170 newly-pregnant women. Half had conceived at the height of the rainy season and half had become pregnant at the peak of the dry season.
He also scrutinised the DNA of their babies after they were born. The results showed a clear link between a woman’s diet and her child’s genes. Crucially, it was what she ate before pregnancy that was important – not what eaten when carrying the child. The difference involved ‘epigenetic’ changes to the baby’s DNA. These aren’t mutations but chemical changes that affect when genes become active and how active they are. Not all of our genes are active all of the time, and if they are under or over-active, it can cause problems.
In other work, Professor Prentice has found linked pre-pregnancy diet to the chemistry of genes involved in obesity, cancer and the immune system. Some changes can be erased over time, others are life-long. Nutrients needed to make the chemical changes include vitamins B2, B6 and B12, as well as choline, methionine, NAC and folic acid. Women are already advised to take folic acid in the run-up to pregnancy. The professor said: ‘Now research is pointing to the need for a cocktail of nutrients, which could come from the diet or from supplements.’
‘What is pretty thrilling is that we seem to have hit on something that has worldwide consequences for women trying to conceive.’
As a note, that isn’t covered by the research, it is critically important that the man pays close attention to his pre-conceptual diet. A simple fact is that Men supply 50% of the DNA for the developing child. T he DNA, tightly wrapped up in a sperm cell’s head, is also impacted by the nutrient quality and quantity reaching the sperm cell. So, for the men out there it is also worth noting that 50% of infertility diagnosis’ are male related and also, 50% of miscarriages are male related (because of faulty DNA in the sperm’s head).