Slimming before pregnancy ensures healthier births

Even if obese women eat healthy during pregnancy, their babies may suffer future health problems. So it is advisable to lose body weight before going in for pregnancy, says a news study.

"We can see fat sequestered in the placentas of obese mothers when it should be going to the baby to support its growth. The nutrient supply region in the placenta of an obese mother is half the size of that of a normal-weight mother, even when both are eating the same healthy diet," said Yuan-Xiang Pan, epigeneticist and professor of nutrition at the University of Illinois.

Pan, who co-authored the study with Rita Strakovsky, blames what he calls the 'obesogenic' environment of the mother, which includes increased triglycerides, high levels of the hormone leptin and elevated amounts of non-esterified fatty acids (NEFAs) circulating in the obese expectant mother's body, the journal Biology of Reproduction reports.

Triglycerides are the primary fat in our bodies, the main constituent in our energy system. Leptin may play an important role in obesity-related cardiovascular disease while NEFAs are found in animal and vegetable fats and oils.

Triglyceride and NEFA levels are nearly twice as high in obese mothers, even when they consume healthy diets during pregnancy. "My advice is, lose weight well before you become pregnant," Pan said, according to an Illinois statement.

Pan compared the placentas of obese rats fed a healthy diet throughout their pregnancies with the placentas of obesity-resistant rats fed the same diet.

Obese mothers gave birth to babies that were up to 17 percent smaller than they should have been. The consequences for those infants may be lifelong, making them more susceptible to disease, he noted.
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