The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. This idiom is normally used with regard to personality or functional commonalities between parents and their children. What most people don’t realize is how true this is when it comes to genetics. Genetics play a large role when it comes to health risk factors and if the tree has underlying medical problems or family history of medical problems, there is a strong chance the apple may have inherited them, too. For example, parental obesity contributes to pediatric obesity through genetics, along with environmental and epigenetic influences.
New research performed by Dr. Frédéric Guénard and Dr. Marie-Claude Vohl in the field of Epigenetics, which is the study of heritable changes in gene expression, has found that obesity during pregnancy predisposes children to lifelong excess body weight and increased risk of heart disease.
In their study, blood samples were taken from 25 children of 20 mothers who were born before their mothers had weight-loss surgery and blood samples from 25 of their siblings who were born afterwards. The average BMI (Body Mass Index) of the mothers was 45 before the surgery and 27 afterwards.
They then tested the DNA from the blood samples to find any changes in the genes caused by methylation. DNA Methylation is a biochemical process. It is a crucial part of a normal organismal development and cellular differentiation in higher organisms. Methylation stably alters the gene expression pattern in cells. (Source: Article: Reprogramming of the paternal genome upon fertilization involves genome-wide oxidation of 5 methylcytosine.) The higher the amount of methylation there is means the gene is turned off and a lower amount means the gene is turned on. In simpler terms, methylation is a part of reprogramming your genes without changing the actual gene sequence.
Researchers found that methylation levels were very different in the children born to mothers before weight-loss surgery than from those who were born after.
“Our findings show that maternal bariatric surgery results in significant metabolic effects to the methylation profiles of inflammatory disease-related genes,” says Dr. Guénard. “Basically, this study tells us that maternal obesity affects the obesity and cardiovascular risk profiles of offspring and that weight loss can improve the cardiovascular health of children.”
This is why we need to manage and control our weight at all stages of life, to ensure, in this case, that the apple falls far from the tree. FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in partnership with Pinehurst Surgical offers various weight-loss options and free weight-loss surgery seminars twice a month. These seminars will educate you on the qualifications and benefits and will give you the opportunity to speak with a physician. FirstHealth offers treatments for patients in the Pinehurst, Raeford, Sanford, Lumberton, Laurinburg, Rockingham and Troy regions of North Carolina and beyond.