Maternal obesity modulates offspring microflora composition and gastrointestinal functions

Research to be presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, finds that maternal obesity leads to marked changes in the offspring's gastrointestinal microflora composition and gastrointestinal function.

The gastrointestinal microflora consists of multiple species of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of animals and assists the host in digestion. An imbalance in an individual's microflora is suspected to contribute to the development and persistence of obesity. An increase in firmicutes to bacteriodetes ratio is a trademark of obesity and is linked to an increase in gastrointestinal permeability, systemic inflammation and weight gain. Results from this new study show that the "obese" microflora may be passed from a mother to offspring. In rodents, offspring from exhibited an increase in firmicutes to bacteriodetes ratio and an increase in gastrointestinal permeability. This is a unique finding because it suggests that there are non-genetic factors that could be passed from a mother to offspring to increase the susceptibility to obesity.

Today about 30% of women entering pregnancy are obese and their children are at greater risk for and associated metabolic disorders. "Modulation of microflora composition is fairly easy and non-invasive and may be of benefit for these children," says Dr. de la Serre. Her research team will continue these studies to investigate whether this may be a viable treatment option and promote the health of the offspring.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Key to better sex ed: Focus on gender & power

date 11 hours ago

A new analysis by Population Council researcher Nicole Haberland provides powerful evidence that sexuality and HIV education programs addressing gender and power in intimate relationships are far more likely ...

Journal tackles aging policy issues raised by White House

date 11 hours ago

In anticipation of the forthcoming 2015 White House Conference on Aging (WHCoA), The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) has produced a special issue of The Gerontologist that outlines a vision for older adults' econom ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.