Women who fall pregnant while dieting are more likely to have a child that could become obese or diabetic in later life, new research suggests.
Following a study carried out using sheep, University of Manchester scientists believe the findings may hold true for humans as well.
The research may also have found a reason why human twins are more likely to develop type-2 diabetes in adulthood.
The team investigated twin pregnancies in sheep, as well as the pregnancies of ewes that received less food around the time the lamb was conceived.
The researchers then looked at tissues from the brains of the unborn lambs to see if there were changes in the structure of the DNA that would alter genes involved in food intake and glucose levels after birth.
Professor of endocrine sciences Anne White said: “Our findings provide a reason why twins are more likely to get diabetes but we have also shown that mothers who don’t have enough food around the time of conception may have a child who grows up with an increased risk of obesity.”
The research, carried out with colleagues in New Zealand and Canada, is published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.