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Nutrition and Metabolic Insights

Nutrition During Pregnancy Impacts Offspring’s Epigenetic Status—Evidence from Human and Animal Studies

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Nutrition and Metabolic Insights 2015:Suppl. 1 41-47

Review

Published on 16 Feb 2016

DOI: 10.4137/NMI.S29527


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Abstract

Pregnancy is a vital time of growth and development during which maternal nutrition significantly influences the future health of both mother and baby. During pregnancy, the fetus experiences a critical period of plasticity. Epigenetics, specifically DNA methylation, plays an important role here. As nutrition is influential for DNA methylation, this review aims to determine if maternal nutrition during pregnancy can modify the offspring’s epigenome at birth. Research focuses on micronutrients and methyl donors such as folate and B vitamins. Evidence suggests that maternal nutrition does not largely influence global methylation patterns, particularly in nutrient-replete populations; however, an important impact on gene-specific methylation is observed. A link is shown between maternal nutrition and the methylome of the offspring; however, there remains a paucity of research. With the potential to use DNA methylation patterns at birth to predict health of the child in later life, it is vital that further research be carried out.



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