Mums poor diet during pregnancy could give children Alzheimer’s

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New research undertaken by the University of Southampton has indicated a link between a bad diet during pregnancy and Alzheimer’s.

Scientists have found that the babies of mice who were on a high-fat diet during pregnancy were at higher risk of a hindrance of blood flow in the brain. This is one of the symptoms linked to Alzheimer’s. The high fat diet stopped the babies from ridding themselves of sticky beta amyloidal proteins, which when it builds up is a key feature of the disease.

The lead scientist from the University of Southampton, Dr Cheryl Hawkes, has stated that their preliminary findings have indicated that the diet of the pregnant woman could have long-term effects on the vascular and brain health of their baby.

As this particular study was performed on mice, much more work is required to obtain a clear picture of how a pregnant woman’s diet affects her unborn child. Researchers have however stated that they are very close to developing crucial theories on the implications diet has on in-womb babies and their health as they grow up.

The next step would be to take a look at how the results of the initial research programme could be linked to the disease in people generally. The researchers work in the hope that their initial findings could offer a new lead to aid in understanding ways to prevent the disease.

The Director of Research at the charity which funded the study has stated that although the research was done in mice, the results add to evidence that is already present suggesting that the risk of developing the disease later in life is determined by the state of health in earlier life.

The study has gone a step further by suggesting that what occurs inside the womb could be extremely important.

Alzheimer’s is considered an extremely complicated disease and the risk of suffering from the disease is determined by several environmental and genetic factors. Research undertaken to understand all these factors could offer an insight into steps on how to prevent the disease. In the interim, evidence has indicated that the risk can be lowered by eating a balanced, healthy diet, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure, and not smoking.

Image credit: Lucas Richarz

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