"Given that human studies also show female-specific obesity following early growth restriction," said Dr. Robert Waterland, associate professor of pediatrics – nutrition at BCM, and a member of the CNRC faculty, "it may be prudent to encourage parents of a low birth weight child to promote healthy physical activity – particularly if that child is a girl."
"These findings were a bit of a surprise," said Waterland, corresponding author of the report.
He had already shown that genetically normal female offspring of obese female mice of a specific type (prone to obesity and marked with a yellow coat) were themselves prone to obesity and inactivity. However, he realized he also had data on the mice's weight at birth. The birth weight data showed that the offspring of these overweight females were growth restricted in the uterus.
This was surprising because babies born to obese human women tend to be larger at birth, although there is a slightly elevated risk of low birth weight as well, said Waterland. When he looked at historical reports of people who had been born in famine conditions, he found that women – but not men – who had been growth-restricted in early life were more likely to be obese.
These included women born during the Dutch Hunger Winter near the end of World War II, the great famine in China from 1959 to 1961 and the Biafran famine during the Nigerian civil war (1967-1970).
Once it was considered important to help infants born small to "catch up and achieve a normal weight for their age," said Waterland. "Increasingly, these and other epidemiologic data show that it might not be a good thing. It might set you up for bad outcomes in the long term."
Their studies of the growth-restricted mice show definitively that they are not prone to overeat but become obese because they are less active. (Similar changes were not seen in male mice that were growth restricted in utero.)
That could make evolutionary sense, said Waterland. In times of food scarcity, it might be more important for females to be developmentally 'programmed' to conserve their energy for future bearing of offspring.
"Millions of low birth weight babies are born every year, so this could be an important factor in the worldwide obesity epidemic," said Waterland.
Others who took part in this research include Dr. Maria S. Baker, Dr. Ge Li, and John J. Kohorst, all of BCM. Kohorst is now with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
Funding for this work came from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (Grant 1R01DK081557) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) (Grant CRIS 6250-51000-055). Studies were also performed in the Mouse Metabolic Research Unit at the USDA/Agricultural Research Service Children's Nutrition Research Center at BCM and Texas Children's Hospital, which is supported by funds from the USDA ARS.
For more information on research at Baylor College of Medicine, please go to http://www.bcm.edu/fromthelab.Dipali Pathak
Dipali Pathak | EurekAlert!
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy