Mothers' weight loss methods can impact health of future children

It is common knowledge that a mother's physical state can impact her offspring's chances of a healthy future.

Where diabetes is concerned, studies continue to show that poor maternal health prior to and during pregnancy can set children up for metabolic problems of their own, obesity and even early death.

Yet how a mother chooses to go about achieving a healthy weight could impact the health of her offspring, according to a new study from the University of Cincinnati.

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Weight loss surgery

The research – conducted on animals – found that moms who received vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG) weight-loss surgery prior to conception did not bear healthier children. The surgery, in fact, might pose negative consequences for the metabolic health of future kids, the researchers claimed.

"On some measures the health of these offspring, in fact, got worse," said study author Randy Seeley, Ph.D., in a statement. "Their birth weights were lower when compared to rats whose mothers didn't receive the surgery. And when they were given access to a high-fat diet following puberty, offspring of VSG rats showed a greater propensity to gain body fat and develop glucose intolerance."

Inducing obesity in female rats, the team then treated some with the VSG procedure. While the rats that received the surgery showed improved glucose control and even some improvements in reproductive health, the metabolic health of their offspring did not improve.

Diet is key

Given that bariatric surgery procedures are one of the most effective ways to achieve long-term weight loss, the authors noted, the results are concerning for would-be moms already battling obesity.

"It may not be sufficient enough just to get mom healthier before she conceives; how she gets healthier seems to matter," Seeley said.

Diet, Seeley said, played a big role in the outcome of these studies.

"The interaction between diet and the maternal environments – the uterus and placenta, for example – may impact susceptibility to metabolic disease in offspring," he said.

Further research on how other types of weight-loss procedures done on mothers effect the health of children would be useful, the authors noted.

Results of the study are published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Source: Eureka Alert

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