27 Feb 2014

Maternal Health, Foetal Brain

From Our Changing World, 9:06 pm on 27 February 2014

With conditions such as obesity and diabetes on the rise, researchers are investigating what health implications these disorders may have on future generations. Research carried out at the Liggins Institute contributed to studies which found that a pregnant mother's diet can alter her child's DNA, potentially determining whether they will grow up to be obese.

At the University of Otago, Christine Jasoni is investigating how the maternal environment affects the formation of the baby's brain, with a particular focus on maternal obesity during pregnancy and its impact on the development of foetal brain circuits that regulate the child's body weight.

Christine's team is using a mouse model to identify maternal factors that have a negative impact on foetal brain development. They hope to discover markers that can be used to predict potential neurological disorders and to provide research-informed guidelines for a healthy pregnancy.