Mother’s Liver Health During Pregnancy Linked To Childhood Obesity

It is important that women take care of their liver during pregnancy. Researchers found that babies in the womb of women with impaired liver function have a high risk of obesity later in childhood. 

A new study shows that poor liver health could cause changes in the gut bacteria of the baby. This increases their risk of significant weight gain after birth, especially when exposed to Western diet.

Previous studies showed that gut microbiome plays an important role in metabolic health. 

"These findings further suggest that health during pregnancy can have long-term health effects on children," Caroline Ovadia, a researcher from King's College London, said in a statement. "And in this case how gut microbiome alterations may increase the risk of obesity in children on a Western-style, high-fat diet."

Many women experience the liver disease intrahepatic cholestasis (ICP) in pregnancy. The condition causes reduced levels of digestive fluid bile from the liver, which leads to impaired liver function, bile acids in the blood and higher risk of stillbirth and preterm birth.

It may be difficult to prevent liver conditions during pregnancy. But researchers said changes to the diet of children could help reduce their risk of becoming obese. 

In tests with mice, researchers found that the offspring of mothers with ICP or other liver diseases had lower obesity risk when introduced to a healthy diet early after birth. The team recommended that parents should provide less fatty foods to avoid sudden weight gain. 

“Understanding changes in composition of the gut microbiome and their effects may provide new ways of diagnosing patients at particular risk of obesity before it occurs,” Ovadia added. “We could then develop personalized medicine and target appropriate treatments to alter gut bacteria accordingly.”

Women could also take some treatment strategies during pregnancy to improve the gut health of their babies. These treatments include intake of prebiotics or probiotics, which could help reduce childhood obesity risk.

Ovadia and her team will continue the study, which will focus on stool samples from babies to further understand the link between the mother’s liver health and the child’s risk of obesity. 

pregnant Pregnancy is among the most sensitive stages of life among women and the scientific community continues to find health conditions and factors that may put both the mother and baby at risk. Pixabay