A new study has found that exercising during pregnancy may allow mothers to drastically reduce their children’s chances of developing diabetes and other metabolic diseases later in life.
A study in lab rats found that a mother’s exercise during pregnancy prevented the transmission of metabolic diseases from an obese parent – either from the mother or the father – to the child. If the results are correct in humans, they will have “huge implications” to help pregnant women ensure that their babies live the best possible lives, the researchers report in a new scientific paper.
This means that one day soon, a woman’s first trip to the doctor after pregnancy may include a prescription for an exercise program.
It is known that most of the chronic diseases we talk about today are of fetal origin. This means that parents’ poor health conditions before and during pregnancy have negative consequences for the baby, perhaps through chemical modification of genes, ”said researcher Zhen Yan, Ph.D, an exercise expert at the University of Virginia College of Medicine. She indicated that regular aerobic exercise for an obese mother before and during pregnancy can protect the baby from early diabetes. In this study we asked the questions, what if an obese mother only exercised during pregnancy, and what if the father was obese?
Exercise and pregnancy
Scientists have known that exercising during pregnancy helps to have healthy babies, and reduce the risks of pregnancy complications and premature labor. But Yan, director of the Skeletal Muscle Research Center at UVA’s Robert M Byrne Center for Cardiovascular Research, wanted to know if the benefits continued throughout the children’s lives. And his work, former and new, suggests so.
To determine this, Yan and his collaborators studied lab rats and their offspring. Some adult mice were fed typical rat food before and during pregnancy, while others were fed a high-fat, high-calorie diet to mimic obesity. Some of those receiving a high-fat diet before mating only had access to a voluntary running wheel while pregnant, as they could run whatever they like, while others did not, which means they remained stable.
The results were startling: both mothers and fathers in the high-fat group could predispose their offspring to metabolic disorders. In particular, the male offspring of sedentary mothers who followed a high-fat diet were more likely to have high blood sugar and other metabolic problems in adulthood.
To better understand what was happening, the researchers looked at the metabolism of the adult offspring and the chemical (epigenetic) modification of DNA. They found that there are significant differences in the health of metabolism and the activity of certain genes between different groups of offspring, indicating that the negative effects of parental obesity, although it differs between the father and the mother, persist throughout the life of the offspring.
The researchers found the good news was that a mother’s practice only during pregnancy prevented a set of “epigenetic” changes that affect the functioning of the offspring’s genes. They found that maternity exercises completely prevented the negative effects of maternal or paternal obesity on the offspring.
They say the results provide the first evidence that a mother’s exercise only during pregnancy can prevent the transmission of metabolic diseases from father to child.
“The message to take home is that it is not too late to start exercising if the mother finds herself pregnant.” Yan said that regular exercise will not only benefit pregnancy and childbirth, but also benefit the baby’s long-term health. This is even more exciting evidence that regular exercise It is most likely a promising intervention that will help us deter a chronic disease pandemic in the aging world, as it could disrupt the vicious cycle of disease transmission from parents to children. “
The researchers published their findings in The Journal of Applied Physiology. The study authors are Rhianna C. Laker and Ali Alt? Nta? Travis S. Lillard, Mei Zhang, Jessica J. Connelly, Olivia L. Sabik, Suna Onengut, Stephen S. Rich, Charles R. Farber, Romain Barrès and Yan.
The research was supported by a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the American Heart Association (14POST20450061) to Liker.
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