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'Motherwell's babies' study may yield up clues for adult diseases

Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Southampton have begun a new study into the effects of a mother's diet in pregnancy upon unborn babies and their future health. The research team will seek answers to the links between diet and health by carrying out further studies in a group of almost 1,000 men and women born in Motherwell, Scotland, in the late 1960s. The Chief Scientist Office and the Medical Research Council fund the project.

This latest research will look at the effects of an ' Atkins-type' high meat, low carbohydrate diet in late pregnancy on how the offspring respond to a mental stress test. Men and women born in the 1ate 1960s, whose mothers' food intakes in pregnancy were recorded, will take part in the stress test.

The 'Motherwell babies' have been chosen for the project because the diets followed by their mothers during pregnancy were carefully recorded by local obstetrician Dr Kerr Grieve, who believed that many of the problems suffered by mothers and babies were due to an unhealthy diet. He designed a diet for pregnant women that would provide 'body building' foods for the healthy growth of babies.

957 men and women, born in 1967 and 1968, have already taken part in previous studies, to check for raised blood pressure and high blood sugar levels. This research found that the mothers with less balanced diets had babies who grew up to have higher blood pressure, altered blood sugar levels and higher amounts of stress hormones: all factors which can predispose an individual to diabetes and coronary heart disease.

Dr Rebecca Reynolds of the University of Edinburgh's Medical Sciences division, who is leading the study, said the 'Motherwell babies' would prove invaluable in this latest research. She explained: "We now know that growth from the very earliest days in the womb affects health in adulthood, particularly the risks of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. If the mother eats an unbalanced diet th
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Contact: Linda Menzies
44-131-650-6382
University of Edinburgh
11-Apr-2005


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