Researchers at the University of Cambridge (UC) have conducted a study which shows how a mother's diet during pregnancy may affect her child's health later in life.
They found that prenatal diet affects a gene that is associated with type 2 diabetes. The same gene is also responsible for the development of a fetus' pancreas, which regulates insulin production.
"It is remarkable that maternal diet can mark our genes so they remember events in very early life," said Dr Miguel Constancia, the senior co-author on the paper from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Metabolic Research Laboratories at UC.
Authors of the study noted a longstanding correlation between maternal diet and offspring health, but said causes have been unknown. This study supports the theory that nutrition plays a major role in fetal gene development, which may have a powerful impact on long-term health of the child.
While all pregnant women should consult with their doctor regarding proper diet and supplementation, the March of Dimes recommends a balanced diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and dairy.