grant

Functional and epigenetic consequences of maternal folate deficiency, supplementation and fetal growth restriction [ 2007 - 2009 ]

Also known as: Maternal folate and epigenetic state and health of offspring in later life

Research Grant

[Cite as http://purl.org/au-research/grants/nhmrc/453640]

Researchers: Prof Julie Owens (Principal investigator) ,  Dr Marie Dziadek E/Pr Jeffrey Robinson

Brief description Growing slowly before birth or being born early and premature are very common. Both conditions greatly increase the risk of illness or death around birth and of the infant developing major conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease in later life. Despite their importance, we understand little of what causes fetal growth failure or prematurity or why they influence an individual's health throughout life. Recent findings suggest that low levels of folate in the mother, due to either dietary or genetic factors, may be involved in their origins and their long-term outcomes. Folate is a nutrient required regularly in small amounts for growth and maintenance of health. Folate supplementation in women is currently recommended before and in early pregnancy, but may have a role throughout the whole of pregnancy in promoting growth and health of the infant. Using experimental models, this project will determine if too little or too much maternal folate modifies the genetic code of the infant (called epigenetic changes), which leads to later metabolic disease and high blood pressure. These epigenetic changes are mild and subtle chemical modifications of DNA that persist in the cells of the infant altering their function. The efficacy of maternal folate supplementation in improving these outcomes for the small baby will also be tested in the models. Finally, the effect of folate status in the normal and small human infant on the epigenetic state of their placenta, cord blood white blood cells and mucous cells of the mouth will be tested. These outcomes will enable the design and testing of interventions with folate and related nutrients in the mother to improve the health of their babies before birth and subsequently throughout their lives. Because these pregnancy complications of being born small or early are common and account for much of the diabetes that occurs in later life, the health benefits from development of effective interventions may be large.

Funding Amount $AUD 545,183.42

Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants

Notes Standard Project Grant

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