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High Fat Diet During Pregnancy Places Offspring At Risk For Asthma

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High Fat Diet During Pregnancy Places Offspring At Risk For AsthmaConsuming a high-fat diet during pregnancy may increase your children's risk for asthma. Oregon Health and Science University researchers have found that the immune response of the offspring's respiratory system may be altered by continuous intake of high-fat diet, using a mouse study.

For this study, researchers used four groups of mice pups. Two groups of mice pups were born to mothers who were given a high fat diet and then fed with a high-fat diet or changed to normal-fat food at weaning. The remaining two groups were born to mothers that were fed with normal-fat food during pregnancy period and lactation. Those pups were continued either normal diet or high fat diet after weaning.

High-Fat Diet and Airway Resistance

The two groups were investigated by the research team in terms of lung structure and various markers of allergy response and inflammation. Those markers include the following:

  • Airway resistance (a marker for asthma)
  • The composition and amount of the cells in the airways
  • The inflammatory chemicals concentration in the lungs

Every mice pup whose moms consumed a high fat diet showed increased airway resistance irrespective of the ones who were weaned to normal-fat food. Higher airway resistance is usually present in asthma attacks while the airways are narrowed. This indicates that maternal food habits can influence airway resistance in the offspring.

Also, the mice whose moms consumed a high-fat food showed an increased concentration of chemicals which cause inflammation, higher cell counts and more white blood cells. The mice pups that switched to a normal diet at weaning did not have as much inflammation as those were fed with high fat food.

The researchers mentioned that, Our observations show that maternal high fat diet increased airway resistance in the offspring. These results suggest that, consuming a high-fat diet during pregnancy and nursing creates immune cell variances that maximize the risk of allergies and asthma.  These health risks in the offspring may be counteracted by reducing fat in the offspring's diet; however certain damages may already be happened. 

Written by Lax Mariappan, MSc