Pregnant mothers,please note! You should increase consumption of eggs and meat as they contain a nutrient ‘choline’ that can lower your infant’s risk of developing stress-related illnesses later in life,a new study has claimed.
Nutrition scientists and obstetricians at Cornell University and the University of Rochester Medical Center found that higher-than-normal amounts of choline in the diet during pregnancy can change epigenetic markers.
Epigenetic markers are modifications on human DNA that tell genes to switch on or off,to go gangbusters or keep a low profile in the fetus.
While epigenetic markers don’t change genes,they make a permanent imprint by dictating their fate: If a gene is not expressed – turned on – it’s as if it didn’t exist.
Researchers discovered that the affected markers were those that regulated the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal or HPA axis,which controls virtually all hormone activity in the body,including the production of the hormone cortisol that reflects our response to stress and regulates our metabolism,among other things.
Researchers studied 26 pregnant women in their third trimester who were assigned to take 480 mg of choline per day.
The study found that more choline in the mother’s diet led to a more stable HPA axis and consequently less cortisol in the fetus.
“The study is important because it shows that a relatively simple nutrient can have significant effects in prenatal life,and that these effects likely continue to have a long-lasting influence on adult life,” said Eva K Pressman,study author and director of the high-risk pregnancy program at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
“While our results won’t change practice at this point,the idea that maternal choline intake could essentially change fetal genetic expression into adulthood is quite novel,” Pressman said in a statement.
The findings raise the possibility that choline may be used therapeutically in cases where excess maternal stress from anxiety,depression or other prenatal conditions might make the fetal HPA axis more reactive and more likely to release greater-than-expected amounts of cortisol,researchers said. The study was published in the FASEB journal.