Diet Warning For Mums To Be

8 March 2011, 06:00 | Updated: 9 March 2011, 15:45

Eating badly during pregnancy can have long-term consequences for your child's health, according to new research at Cambridge University.

Scientists found a poor diet can affect the unborn baby's genetics, making them more prone to diabetes when they grow up.

They conducted tests on rats but believe a similar effect is likely to occur in humans.

The researchers pinpointed a gene in rats that can be reprogrammed in the womb by an unbalanced diet. The change to the gene led offspring of protein-deficient mothers to develop type 2 diabetes.

Dr Susan Ozanne is a Senior Fellow at the Cambridge University’s metabolic research laboratories.

She told Heart: "I’ve always been very interested in how your experiences in very early life, starting with the womb, impact on your long-term health.

We know that nutrition is an important environmental factor, so what your mother eats during pregnancy is important not only for her health, but the long-term health of the baby.”

The risk of Type 2 diabetes is influenced by genetics but environmental factors also play an important role. What we’ve shown is that maternal diet impacts on how your genes are expressed.”

Poor diet can mean there’s low protein, too much fat, too much high fat, not enough vitamins; there are lots of components that can comprise a poor diet."