Parental diet affects offspring immunity

November 27, 2017, University of Sydney
Credit: Inferis [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

A review of studies about parents' diet and the immunity of animal offspring has found a close relationship exists, with implications for wildlife conservation and livestock rearing as well as human health.

The meta-analysis – which shows the intergenerational immunological response continues even when the are raised on a normal – looked at hundreds of results published in 38 published papers across a range of animal species, including rodents, primates and birds.

The findings are published today in the high-impact journal Biological Reviews.

The paper is a cross-disciplinary effort spearheaded at the University of Sydney, by lead author Dr Catherine Grueber who undertook the research at the Sydney School of Veterinary Science and including co-author Professor Stephen Simpson from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, who directs the lifestyle diseases-focused Charles Perkins Centre.

Dr Grueber said the study showed the close relationship between diet and immunity exists across the animal kingdom and that poor nutrition can negatively affect many traits, including disease resistance.

"Our meta-analysis suggests that the effects of a parental diet on immunity can be inherited and that this 'signal' is maintained in offspring in the short term, even if offspring are on the normal diet for their species," Dr Grueber said.

"Researchers are now following a range of leads to discover exactly what that 'signal' is, what the long-term consequences are and whether the effects can be reversed if offspring continue to eat a as they grow."

Professor Simpson said the results could be relevant to humans and add to the body of evidence in support of healthy diets while pregnant.

"We already know that parents need to be mindful of maintaining a healthy diet not only during pregnancy but also before they conceive," Professor Simpson said.

"This study demonstrates that the impacts of a parent's diet can extend beyond birth to affect the health of the child."

Explore further: High-fat diet may change breast milk makeup, affect baby's health

More information: Catherine E. Grueber et al. Intergenerational effects of nutrition on immunity: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Biological Reviews (2017). DOI: 10.1111/brv.12387

Related Stories

High-fat diet may change breast milk makeup, affect baby's health

November 22, 2017
New research suggests that following a high-fat diet during lactation—regardless of diet during pregnancy—alters RNA activity in breast milk. The changes in genetic material may increase the risk of metabolic disorders ...

Recent study shows maternal protein restriction in mice alters energy and behavior in male offspring

January 19, 2017
A team of researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have found that the adult offspring of mouse dams that consumed a low-protein diet during pregnancy and lactation had an increase in body fat, lower energy expenditure and ...

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

February 24, 2017
Here's some good news if you are female: Research published online in The FASEB Journal, shows that in mice, what is eaten during adolescence or childhood development may alter long-term behavior and learning, and can even ...

High-fat diet in pregnancy can cause mental health problems in offspring

July 21, 2017
A high-fat diet not only creates health problems for expectant mothers, but new research in an animal model suggests it alters the development of the brain and endocrine system of their offspring and has a long-term impact ...

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

March 30, 2017
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 ...

High-fructose diet during and after pregnancy can cause a fatty liver in offspring

April 27, 2017
A diet high in fructose-containing sugars eaten during pregnancy or while breastfeeding can cause offspring to have a fatty liver, increasing their chances of developing obesity or type 2 diabetes. This is according to a ...

Recommended for you

The good and bad health news about your exercise posts on social media

February 22, 2018
We all have that Facebook friend—or 10—who regularly posts photos of his or her fitness pursuits: on the elliptical at the gym, hiking through the wilderness, crossing a 10K finish line.

Smartphones are bad for some teens, not all

February 21, 2018
Is the next generation better or worse off because of smartphones? The answer is complex and research shows it largely depends on their lives offline.

Tackling health problems in the young is crucial for their children's future

February 21, 2018
A child's growth and development is affected by the health and lifestyles of their parents before pregnancy - even going back to adolescence - according to a new study by researchers at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, ...

Lead and other toxic metals found in e-cigarette 'vapors': study

February 21, 2018
Significant amounts of toxic metals, including lead, leak from some e-cigarette heating coils and are present in the aerosols inhaled by users, according to a study from scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public ...

Why teens need up to 10 hours' sleep

February 21, 2018
Technology, other distractions and staying up late make is difficult, but researchers say teenagers need to make time for 8-10 hours of sleep a night to optimise their performance and maintain good health and wellbeing.

Electronic health records don't reduce administrative costs

February 21, 2018
The federal government thought that adopting certified electronic health record systems (EHR) would reduce administrative costs for physicians in a variety of specialties. However, a major new study conducted by researchers ...

0 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.