High-fat diet during pregnancy compromises offspring's lung health

baby
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Women who follow a high-fat diet during pregnancy may increase their children's risk for asthma. A mouse study by Oregon Health and Science University researchers suggests that consistent consumption of fat-laden foods may change the immune response of the offsprings' respiratory system. The article is published in Physiological Reports.

Researchers studied four groups of mice pups: Two groups were born to mothers who were fed a ("high-fat maternal") and then either continued a high-fat diet or switched to a normal-fat diet at weaning. The other two groups were born to mothers that followed a normal-fat diet ("normal maternal") during pregnancy and lactation. After weaning, those pups were fed either a high-fat diet or a normal diet.

The research team examined lung structure from both groups, as well as several markers of inflammation and allergy response, including:

  • airway resistance (how easily air flows through the respiratory tract), a hallmark feature of asthma;
  • the amount and composition of the cells in the airways; and
  • the concentration of inflammatory chemicals in the lungs.

All of the pups whose moms consumed a high-fat diet had increased airway resistance, even those who weaned to a normal-fat diet. Higher airway resistance is commonly seen in asthma attacks when the airways constrict. This observation suggests alone can affect airway reactivity in the offspring.

The lungs of all mice whose mothers were fed a high-fat diet had an increased concentration of inflammation-causing chemicals, higher cell counts (a marker of inflammation) and more ( that fight infection). The pups that began a normal diet after weaning did not show as much inflammation as those that were exposed to the high-fat diet.

"Our results demonstrate that maternal [high-fat diet] programs increased [airway resistance] in the offspring," the researchers wrote. These findings suggest that exposure to a high-fat diet during pregnancy and nursing creates immune cell variances that increase the risk of asthma and allergies. Reducing fat in the offspring's may help offset the health risks associated with the mother's lifestyle, but some of the damage may already be done.


Explore further

Effects of a poor diet during pregnancy may be reversed in female adolescent offspring

More information: Kelvin D. MacDonald et al. Maternal high‐fat diet in mice leads to innate airway hyperresponsiveness in the adult offspring, Physiological Reports (2017). DOI: 10.14814/phy2.13082
Citation: High-fat diet during pregnancy compromises offspring's lung health (2017, March 30) retrieved 21 September 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-03-high-fat-diet-pregnancy-compromises-offspring.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

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