Does women's nutrition during pregnancy influence metabolic health of their children? [ 2007 - 2009 ]

Research Grant

[Cite as]

Researchers: Prof Vivienne Moore (Principal investigator) ,  E/Pr Jeffrey Robinson Prof David Phillips Prof Julie Owens

Brief description The occurrence of type 2 diabetes is increasing around the world, with the rising incidence among children and adolescents especially worrying. Widespread obesity has clearly contributed to this epidemic, but does not fully explain it. Diabetes develops over many years and obesity appears to exacerbate a pre-existing susceptibility. Our work focuses on understanding and preventing this initial susceptibility. Metabolic changes in the way the body produces and disposes of insulin, and responds to glucose, are seen much earlier in individuals who become diabetic. These metabolic defects are thought to be due, in part, to sub-optimal growth and development before birth (affecting the way the pancreas and liver function, for example). Poor nutrition before birth may be an important underlying cause. Animal studies reliably demonstrate that a poor quality diet of the pregnant mother can result in offspring that have impaired glucose tolerance and related metabolic problems. We now need to determine whether this occurs in humans. A limited amount of community-based research suggests this is possible. The balance between carbohydrate and protein in the mother's diet may be a key factor, and possibly the type of carbohydrate (high or low glycaemic). Weight before and during pregnancy could also be influential. We have been following a cohort of 500 children from before birth, through childhood. We collected detailed information on the mothers' diets during pregnancy. In this project, we plan to assess the glucose-insulin metabolism of the children at 8 years of age. We will then investigate whether diet of the mothers during pregnancy affects the metabolism of the children later on. Improving nutrition of pregnant women could lead to life-long improvement in metabolic health of the children. This study will contribute to the evidence-base about whether maternal diet is important, and give specific details about what kinds of changes are needed.

Funding Amount $AUD 255,752.60

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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