A new study says that a pregnant mother's diet could be inadvertently putting the health of her offspring at risk through her genes.
Researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at the University of Oxford found that mothers who eat a high fat diet before and through pregnancy influence the type or severity of birth defect.
In a study conducted on mice, the team found that high fat diet and deficiency of Cited2 (A gene that helps prevent serious heart defects) combined, increased the risk of congenital heart defects.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director of the BHF, which part-funded the study, said, "This research shows that diet during pregnancy can directly affect which genes get switched on in unborn offspring. The study was with mice, but a similar link may exist in humans, leading to some cases of congenital heart disease."
The study is published in the journal Human Molecular Genetics.