High fat diet during pregnancy makes the offspring more likely to develop a severe form of fatty liver disease when they reach adulthood, says a new study by researchers at the University of Southampton.
The research has been published in the journal Hepatology.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition associated with obesity and caused by the build up of fat in the liver. The condition advances in some people and it is important to understand the factors that contribute to disease progression. Until recently, NAFLD was considered rare and relatively harmless but now it is one of the most common forms of liver disease that may progress to cirrhosis a serious life threatening chronic liver disease.
Professor Christopher Byrne, with colleagues Dr Felino Cagampang and Dr Kim Bruce, of the University's School of Medicine and researchers at King's College London, conducted the study, funded by the BBSRC.
Prof Byrne explained: "This research shows that too much saturated fat in a mother's diet can affect the developing liver of a fetus, making it more susceptible to developing fatty liver disease later in life. An unhealthy saturated fat-enriched diet in the child and young adult compounds the problem further causing a severe form of the fatty liver disease later in adult life."