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January 19, 2020
Pregnancy and Diet

High-Fat Diet During Pregnancy may Affect Baby’s Gut Microbiome


  • Mother’s high-fat diet may have a lasting impact on babies gut microbiome
  • Changes in the babies’ gut microbiomes were present from birth to six weeks of age
  • The changes in gut microbiome may affect the baby’s immune development

Most of the women are watchful of what they eat, and they become extra careful of their diets during pregnancy. It is important for pregnant women to eat a healthy diet to provide essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to support the growth and development of the fetus. But, eating a high-fat diet during pregnancy may have a long lasting impact on the baby’s gut microbiome, says a new study.

Dr. Kjersti Aagaard, the lead author of the study and associate
professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Baylor, said, “Diet is very
amenable to change, and women are highly motivated to make healthy changes
during pregnancy. Traditionally, dietary interventions during pregnancy have
focused on micronutrients, such as iron and folic acid. We speculate that there
may be a sound argument also to discuss and estimate fat intake.”

‘Pregnant women who ate high-fat diet on a regular basis decreased their babies’ levels of Bacteroides in the gut from birth until four to six weeks of age.’

Mother’s High-Fat Diet
and Baby’s Gut Health

A team of researchers from Baylor College of Medicine in the USA examined a cohort study involving 157 women and their newborns. The
researchers found an association between the mother’s diet and the changes in
their babies gut microbiome. These changes could affect energy extraction from
food and early immune development.
The researchers examined the stool samples of 157 infants that were
taken at 24 and 48 hours post-delivery. A sub-sample of 75 babies were further
studied, and their stool sample was analyzed at four to six weeks of age. The
dietary habits of the mothers were assessed using the Dietary Screener Questionnaire
that included 26 questions on the frequent consumption of foods and beverages
in the last month of pregnancy.

The responses to the food frequency questionnaire were used to estimate the intake of added sugars, fat, and fiber during the latter part of the
third trimester of pregnancy. The analysis showed that the mother’s dietary intake of calories from fat ranged from 14.0% to 55.2% per day. On an average, the daily intake of calories from fat was 33.1%. The Institute of Medicine in the USA recommends the daily fat intake between 20 and 35 percent.

The composition of bacteria present in the babies stool was analyzed
using DNA-sequencing. The researchers found that a high-fat diet of the mothers
was significantly associated with fewer numbers of Bacteroides microbes in the stool
samples taken shortly after birth and at four to six weeks of age.

Bacteroides are key species of bacteria that break down and extract
energy from certain carbohydrates. When the Bacteroides are depleted,
carbohydrates become unusable to the infants. Persistent depletion of
Bacteroides species in the infant’s gut could have significant consequences for
energy extraction from food and immune development, said the researchers.

Dr. Kjersti Aagaard said, “We were surprised when we observed
the association between fewer Bacteroides and a high-fat maternal diet during
pregnancy. These findings open up whole new lines of research and emphasize the
importance of including maternal diet questionnaires and data when studying
early changes in the microbiome. However, further studies are needed to
demonstrate if changes in women’s diet have a beneficial impact on their
infants in the immediate and longer term.”

The findings of the study show that mother’s diet is related to her baby’s gut. The limitation of the study is that the total caloric intake of the mothers were not assessed.

study is published in the open access journal Genome Medicine.

Source: Medindia

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