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Babies of Mothers with Gastrointestinal Bypass Fare Better

Update Date: May 28, 2013 12:40 PM EDT

The obesity epidemic continues to grow despite more and more research denouncing poor diets and unhealthy lifestyles. In a previous study, researchers found that obese mothers tend to have children who become obese as well, a vicious cycle that needs to be stopped. In a new study, researchers analyzed this cycle with the hopes of finding a way to prevent it from continuing. The researchers from Canada decided to look at the rates of obesity in children of mothers who received gastrointestinal bypass surgery to help lose weight. This one-of-a-kind study discovered that children of mothers who have slimmed down via surgery are less likely to be obese, suggesting that the cycle could be broken.

The team tested children that were born to obese mothers. The children were either born before or after the mothers received gastrointestinal bypass surgery. The researchers found that not only were younger children that were born after their mothers had surgery slimmer, their genes also performed differently. The researchers stated that the genes linked to obesity-related health complications in the younger siblings worked differently and helped lower their risks of certain diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease.

The team concluded their findings based from blood samples taken from children born to 20 mothers before and post obesity surgery. The surgery resulted in an average weight loss of 100 pounds. The research team, headed by Dr. Federic Guenard compared the differences found in chemical tags of over 5,600 genes between the siblings. He found that gene activity linked to metabolism and heart disease was different between the children.

"The impact on the genes, you will see the impact for the rest of your life," one of the researchers, Dr. Marie-Claude Vohl from Laval University in Quebec City, said according to Medical Xpress.

The researchers could not explain why the genes of children born after the surgery changed in this study. They theorized that it could be due to the different factors in the womb that were affected based on the mother's current health status. These factors could affect how the fetus' genes function, which would explain the differences between the siblings. The researchers acknowledged that their study had a small sample set and that their findings do not predict if the effects on the children's waistline will last in the long-term.

The findings were published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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