High-Fat Diet Ups Stillborn Risk

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PORTLAND—Following a healthy and nutritious diet is essential during pregnancy for both mother and child, and now a new study published in the June issue of the journal Endocrinology has found eating a high-fat diet during pregnancy decreases blood flow from the mother to the placenta and increases the risk of stillbirth.

Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University’s National Primate Research Center conducted a primate study on 24 pregnant Japanses macaques to determine if there is an association between a chronic high-fat diet and abnormal uteroplacental circulation and placental inflammation. Half of the monkeys ate either a diet comprising 32 percent calories from fat or a control diet with 14 percent fat calories for at least four years. The monkeys that ate a high-fat diet experienced a significant 38-percent to 56-percent decrease in blood flow from the uterus to the placenta, and an increase in placental inflammation. They also found maternal obesity and insulin resistance exacerbated the placental dysfunction and resulted in an increased frequency of stillbirth.

Another study published in the April issue of Endocrinology suggested a link between maternal obesity and infertility in their children. The findings suggested low levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin can hinder embryo implantation.

Researchers at Yale University School of Medicine observed female mice born of mice with ghrelin deficiency had diminished fertility and produced smaller litters than mice born of mice with normal ghrelin levels. The mice exposed to ghrelin deficiency in-utero demonstrated alterations in uterine gene expression that lead to impaired embryo implantation and consequently low fertility.

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