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Pregnancy Diet May Affect Baby's Heart Health | BabyGaga

What a mother may affect her baby's heart health, according to a new study. As such, women should be encouraged to eat a to ensure that their babies start off life as healthy as possible with a lower risk of developing  as they age.

Researchers from the University of Southampton in England have discovered that the lifestyle a woman has during pregnancy has beneficial or detrimental effects on a baby's heart health as he ages, according to .

The study, which was published in the American Heart Association journal, , found that the choices a woman makes during pregnancy are directly related to how DNA methylation functions. The healthier choices a woman makes, the better the methylation performs, and conversely, the less healthy lifestyle choices the worse it performs.

According to , DNA methylation refers to "inheritable" DNA changes that do not affect the overall DNA structure but can cause genes to "turn on" or "turn off." When the methylation is working properly, it can stop conditions such as heart disease and cancer from developing. However, if slower processing, the body is more susceptible to these ailments.

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Researchers believe the way to ensure that babies have strong and healthy DNA methylation is for mothers-to-be to eat a heart-healthy diet, including one that included healthy fish oils from sources like salmon and mackerel, according to .

This was determined by researchers analyzing the cord blood of 470 women who were part of the Southampton Women's Survey. They compared the methylation of the samples with the children when they were eight to nine years of age and found "16 sites where methylation altered the expression of genes," according to Medical Xpress.

What this told researchers, according to the , is that how healthy a heart a person has all begins before they are born. As such, those women who exercise, have a healthy weight, do not smoke, and eat a healthy diet before and during pregnancy, have a higher chance of having children who are less at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Those women who choose to put their health and the health of their unborn babies at risk on the other hand, substantially increase the odds of their babies growing up to be diagnosed with .

While it may be too early to determine with 100 percent certainty that DNA methylation alone is the gatekeeper to cardiovascular disease, there is evidence that points to it being a large factor in how healthy a heart is as people age. As such, pregnant women should be cautioned to have as healthy a pregnancy as possible, not only for their overall health but their babies' future health as well.

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