Choline intake during pregnancy could influence gene expression in fetus
Researchers at Cornell University and the University of Rochester Medical Center have found that increased consumption of choline during pregnancy can protect baby from certain conditions such as stress or hypertension. Choline is a nutrient found in eggs and meat, and pregnant women in the future could be urged to consume more choline in order to protect children from certain diseases.
It is known that diet during pregnancy is important for the health of mother and child. Although some women believe that during pregnancy should eat as two people, this is not true. In fact, in the first three months of pregnancy women can consume as many calories as usual. Thereafter it is recommended to consume an average of 300 more calories more, so in any case should not exaggerate with eating. What is really important is the quality of food. In other words, pregnant women should provide the necessary nutrients for a fetus proper and harmonious development.
Now researchers at Cornell University and the University of Rochester Medical Center found that choline plays an important role in the health of child in later life. They found that choline may protect the child from diseases caused by stress and possibly hypertension. It seems that choline influences epigenetic markers. In other words it influences gene activation by changes in DNA. The researchers found that markers affected are those that control the hypothalamic-pituitary tract. By altering the hypothalamic-pituitary tract it is influenced the release of cortisol which is a stress hormone. It was found that increased amounts of choline in maternal diet determine the stability of the hypothalamic-pituitary tract which means less cortisol in the fetus. Research on the relationship between cortisol and fetus have been done in the past. There have been studies that have shown that fetal exposure to high levels of cortisol induced by maternal stress during pregnancy adversely affects the fetus later in life. It seems that cortisol increases the risk of metabolic diseases (diabetes).
Eva K. Pressman, MD, study author and director of the High-Risk Pregnancy Program at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said the idea that the choline has long-lasting effects on the fetus is new. Pressman said that people do not think of this nutrient because it is found in many foods and it is hard to find choline deficiency. Many studies have focused on folate deficiency, which can lead to spina bifida.
To see the effects of choline supplementation during pregnancy, the researchers gave pregnant women increased amounts of choline and found that this reduced expression of genes involved in the hypothalamic-pituitary axis. Researchers believe that in the future choline could be used to counter the effects of mother’s stress during pregnancy that generates a high amount of cortisol in the fetus.