Research by the University of the Basque Country indicates that changes caused by maternal obesity could lead to adverse health outcomes in childhood

Researchers from the University of the Basque Community (Spain, Bilbao, UPV/EHU) and the Biocruces Bizkaia Research Institute have studied how the mother’s body mass index at the beginning of pregnancy influences the molecular patterns of the placenta, and whether it can in some way impact on the development of the foetus and the subsequent health of the children.

Most people think that as the foetus grows in the womb, the mother will be the most important factor influencing the child’s future health, and this factor will undoubtedly prevail over all other possible ones. This belief is widely held in society and much research focuses on the characteristics and behaviours of the mother throughout her pregnancy.

Such is the case in the work published recently in Communications Biology which has studied “the impact of the mother’s body mass index at the beginning of pregnancy on the molecular profiles of the placenta, and more specifically on placental DNA methylation (addition of a group comprising one carbon and three hydrogens in a specific position in the DNA molecule)”, said Nora Fernández-Jiménez, lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine and Nursing and researcher in the UPV/EHU’s Department of Genetics, Physical Anthropology and Animal Physiology. “This is the largest study on placental DNA methylation conducted so far, involving a total of 2,631 mother-child pairs from Europe, North America and Australia,” added Fernández-Jiménez.

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