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Choline-Rich Diet During Pregnancy Reduces Child’s Risk Of Later Health Problems

September 25, 2012: 12:00 AM EST
Pregnant women who eat eggs and meat – foods rich in the nutrient choline – decrease the risk that their children will suffer from stress-related illnesses, such as mental health problems and hypertension as they grow older, U.S. scientists find. The research found that higher-than-normal amounts of choline in the diet during pregnancy modified epigenetic markers in the fetus. The markers don’t change DNA, but they do permanently affect whether the gene will express, i.e., turn on or off. Choline affects markers that control the body’s hormonal activity, including the production of cortisol. Over-exposure to cortisol in the womb can  increase a baby’s lifelong risk of stress-related and metabolic disorders.
X. Jiang et al., "Maternal choline intake alters the epigenetic state of fetal cortisol-regulating genes in humans", The FASEB Journal, September 25, 2012, © Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
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