Fortunately, scientists at Oregon Health and Science University Doernbecher Children's Hospital said, moms who switch to a low-fat diet during pregnancy considerably reduce the risk of these negative effects.
"One of the key findings here is that the offspring are born with a marked shift in body composition, away from lean mass and toward fat mass, prior to any dietary exposure in the offspring themselves," said principal investigator Stephanie M. Krasnow, Ph.D., a scientist in the Pape Family Pediatric Research Institute at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital.
In the study, Krasnow and colleagues fed female mice either a low-fat or high-fat diet for six months, and allowed them to mate with male mice after 4, 12 and 23 weeks.
The females who ate a high-fat diet gained more body weight and had a higher fat mass than the females who ate a low-fat diet.
And on the day of birth, babies born to females who had consumed a high-fat food had more body fat, less lean mass, and smaller livers than the newborns of females that consumed low-fat food.
The findings have been published online in the American Journal of Physiology and Endocrinology Metabolism.