Pre-pregnancy diet ‘influences future health of unborn child’

The pre-pregnancy diet of a woman can have future health implications for her unborn child, according to new research.

Scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK found that this can potentially and permanently “change the function of a gene influencing immunity and cancer risk” in a child.

The gene, called VTRNA2-1, was discovered by the team to be “sensitive”. It is classed as a “tumour suppressor” gene that impacts on how the body deals with viral infections.

“By studying babies conceived to mothers eating very different diets in the dry and rainy seasons in rural Gambia we could exploit a natural experiment,” said lead author Dr Matt Silver, a bioinformatician at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

“Our results show that the methylation marks that regulate how VTRNA2-1 is expressed are influenced by the season in which babies are conceived. Maternal nutrition is the most likely driver.”ADNFCR-2094-ID-801790940-ADNFCR