Fat consuming mothers cause early puberty in offspring: study

June 24th, 2008 - 2:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, June 24 (IANS) Children whose mothers have a fat-rich diet during pregnancy and breast-feeding may enter puberty earlier than their peers, according to a study. In the study, researchers fed rats a high-fat diet through pregnancy and breastfeeding while control animals received a regular diet. After weaning, the offspring ate either regular chow or a high-fat diet.

The onset of puberty was much earlier in all of the animals whose mothers had a high-fat diet, compared with the offspring of the controls.

Controls’ offspring that ate a high fat diet after weaning also entered puberty early. However, the combination of a high-fat prenatal diet and a high-fat diet after birth did not make the early-onset puberty any earlier, said Deborah Sloboda, who led the study.

An early first menstrual period, a marker for early-onset puberty in girls, is a risk factor for obesity, insulin resistance, teenage depression, and breast cancer in adulthood.

The study suggests that “the foetal environment in high fat-fed mothers has a greater influence in determining the timing of puberty than childhood nutrition”, she said.

As adults, animals born to mothers on the high-fat diet had more body fat than controls did, even if they ate a regular diet while young.

They also showed alterations in sex hormones, including increased levels of the ovarian hormone progesterone in females.

“Maternal high-fat nutrition may influence reproductive maturation and reproductive capacity in adult offspring,” Sloboda said.

The findings of the study were presented Monday at The Endocrine Society’s 90th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

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