Monday, 6th June 2011
According to US researchers, a maternal diet high in fat reduces the flow of blood from the mother to the placenta, which affects the nourishment of the foetus.
The researchers looked at the placental structure of the Japanese macaque for their study, as it is similar to the one in humans.
Dr Antonio Frias, principal investigator and assistant professor of obstetrics andgynaecology at the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, said: "This study demonstrates that maternal diet during pregnancy has a profound influence on both placental and foetal development."
He added that the common diet followed by many people in the US "has negative effects on placental function and may be a significant contributor to adverse pregnancy outcomes, such as stillbirth".
Recently, an international study, including researchers from the UK, Singapore and New Zealand, found that maternal diet can affect a child's DNA, causing them to be obese later in life.
Regardless of the size and weight of the mother, and the weight of the baby when it is born, the food a mother-to-be eats during gestation can cause an epigenetic change in her child's DNA, it showed.