Sunday, March 17, 2013

You Are What Your Mom Eats

In an article posted on the NewsMedical website, researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have made some remarkable discoveries that help explain how the diets of pregnant mothers in the days and weeks around the time of conception may affect genetic function in their children, and ultimately their children's health. Lead by molecular geneticist Robert A. Waterland, investigators examined the gene functions of 50 healthy children living in rural villages in the West African nation of The Gambia.

Specifically, Waterland was examining the effects of nutrition on what geneticists refer to as "epigenetic mechanisms" which impact the levels at which DNA methylation, occurs at regions of certain genes. Their studies revealed higher levels of DNA methylation at regions of five genes in children conceived during the peak rainy season months, when food would typically have been less available to mothers.
“We thought that peak rainy season hunger would lower levels of DNA methylation in children conceived at that time, but we found exactly the opposite. We don’t yet know why that happens, but we have more detailed studies under way that may give us the answer.”

Waterland stated that, two of the five elevated genes warrant further study because they are associated with risk of disorders such as Tourette's syndrome and hypothyroidism.

I struggle with Tourette's syndrome myself so this article was of particular interest to me. However, I do not think it had much to do with whether my mother conceived me during the rainy seasons in New Jersey. After reading this article, I am curious though as to whether or not her diet may have had any impact. I also have a hyperthyroid but here they are referring to hypothyroidism. Either way, both are closely related thyroid disorders.

1 comment:

  1. This is interesting to joggle around but I'm not convinced the direct relationship to rainy season food consumption and the overall change in a gene expression is due to that. I might hold onto the overall environment over the length of the pregnancy and nutrition vs. malnutrition as well as the mothers genetic background altering the outcome of the fetus.