How mom's diet before conception affects child's genes revealed
A new study has revealed that a mother's diet before conception can permanently affect her child's genes function by affecting many aspects of its lifelong health.
Researchers from the MRC International Nutrition Group, based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and MRC Unit, The Gambia, utilized a unique 'experiment of nature' in rural Gambia, where the population's dependence on own grown foods and a markedly seasonal climate impose a large difference in people's dietary patterns between rainy and dry seasons.
The scientists have found that a mother's diet before conception had a significant effect on the properties of her child's DNA and genes are expressed is controlled through 'epigenetic' modifications to the DNA.
According to the study, one such modification involves tagging gene regions with chemical compounds called methyl groups and results in silencing the genes. The addition of these compounds requires key nutrients including folate, vitamins B2, B6 and B12, choline and methionine.
Senior author Dr Branwen Hennig, Senior Investigator Scientist at the MRC Gambia Unit and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said that their results represent the first demonstration in humans that a mother's nutritional well-being at the time of conception can change how her child's genes will be interpreted, with a life-long impact.
The study was published in Nature Communications.
(Posted on 30-04-2014)