"It is important to know how muscles are affected in the fetus because we need muscles to breathe, to eat and swallow and to move," said, Dr. Marta Fiorotto, associate professor of pediatrics-nutrition. "If those muscles are compromised in any way during foetal development, those functions are also likely to be compromised in the newborn baby and affect his or her growth."
‘In adults, glucocorticoids have negative effects in the muscles, for instance, they cause atrophy and insulin resistance.’
Malnutrition and stress affect muscle development. Scientists propose that malnutrition and stress are two major environmental factors that affect foetal growth. Interestingly, these two factors expose the foetus to high levels of cortisol, an endogenous glucocorticoid, which is a class of stress steroid hormone.
"Lack of proper nutrition, a form of stress, in an expectant woman raises the levels of cortisol in her blood," said Fiorotto, who also is director of the Mouse Metabolic Research Unit at the USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor and Texas Children's Hospital.
"We wanted to know whether it was the lack of proper nutrition during pregnancy itself or the exposure to the associated increases in the levels of glucocorticoids that affected fetal growth. In adults, glucocorticoids have negative effects in the muscles, for instance, they cause atrophy and insulin resistance.
Why would the newborn be any different?" The health of future generations starts with the health of the mother.