A new study has provided a deeper insight into how and why obesity and diabetes are passed on to the next generation.
The research found evidence suggesting that the in utero environment in obese mothers may program a child's cells to accumulate extra fat or develop differences in metabolism that could lead to insulin resistance.
Kristen E. Boyle, Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and her team took stem cells from donated umbilical cords of the babies of normal-weight and obese mothers and grew them into fat and muscle cells in the lab.
They found a 30 percent higher fat content in both types of cells in the offspring of mothers who were obese at their first prenatal visit, compared to the cells of offspring of normal-weight moms.
They are continuing to evaluate the data to determine if these cells likewise show evidence of altered metabolism.