A new study published in Nature Communications has found that a women’s diet before she conceives can permanently affect the function of her child’s genes.
The researchers studied more than 2000 women in rural Gambia where dietary patterns vary widely between the dry and rainy seasons. They measured the levels of different nutrients in the women’s blood and also in the blood and hair follicles of their infants at age 2-8 months. They found different ‘epigenetic’ changes to the infants DNA linked to various nutrient levels in their mothers blood which in turn were affected by seasonal changes in diet. The mother’s body mass index (BMI) also played a role.
While the study had some limitations, the findings support those of animal studies showing that environmental influences before conception can lead to epigenetic changes that affect the offspring.
Read more about the study here.