It can boost your child’s metabolic health later in life Leave a comment

Exercise is important for health and this is all the more true when you are pregnant. Gone are the days when women were told to avoid any form of exercise during pregnancy. There are specific exercises for each trimester and you can safely start on a workout programme after consulting your doctor. The benefits are many and both you and your child stand to gain from this. Many studies have linked increased maternal body weight and unhealthy diets to poorer metabolic outcomes in offspring, often many years later. Understanding the mechanisms of how maternal exercise can reverse these effects might lead to interventions that prevent these diseases transmitting across generations. Now, researchers may have identified a mechanism that explains how physical exercise in pregnancy confers metabolic health benefits in offspring. According to researchers from the Joslin Diabetes Center at the Harvard Medical School and colleagues from Japan, the US, Canada and Denmark, the key lies with a protein called SOD3, vitamin D and adequate exercise, with the outcomes possibly forming the first steps to designing rational diet and exercise programs to use during pregnancy and particularly when mothers may also be overweight or obese. Cell Metabolism has published this study online. Also Read – Exposure to toxic elements during pregnancy raises your child’s risk of autism

Metabolic benefits for babies

Researchers say that they have known for a while that risks for obesity and type 2 diabetes can originate in the critical prenatal developmental period. They say that, in particular, there is real concern that the increasing levels of obesity seen in women of reproductive age will transmit disease risk to subsequent generations. It’s important to understand that if this is not alleviated, rates of diabetes and obesity will only continue to grow in the coming years. The findings of this study offer an explanation as to why physical exercise during pregnancy may have metabolic benefits for offspring as they get older. In this study, researchers show how physical exercise during pregnancy, in combination with adequate vitamin D levels, enhances levels of a placenta-derived protein called SOD3 (superoxide dismutase 3), and that, via a number of intermediate steps, this improves glucose tolerance in offspring. Also Read – TV actor Kishwer Merchant announces pregnancy at 40; know the complications of late pregnancy

Exercise induced placental protein improves glucose metabolism in offspring

The researchers arrived at this conclusion after a series of investigations with pregnant mice, comparing groups exposed to voluntary wheel running (i.e., exercise) and groups that were sedentary. Using various techniques, the authors carefully investigated the effects of exercise on parameters such as DNA methylation, cell signaling and gene expression, particularly in relation to glucose metabolism. In short, they found that SOD3 is an exercise-induced placenta-derived protein that activates a specific signaling pathway that controls DNA demethylation in the livers of offspring, which in turn improves a number of aspects of glucose metabolism in offspring. Also Read – Doctors successfully deliver 649 grams premature baby: Know all about this rare case

Vitamin D is important too

They also highlight the critical role of vitamin D as a mediator of SOD3 expression, with their data suggesting that maternal diet had to have sufficient vitamin D levels to influence placental levels of SOD3 and hence any improvements in metabolic health in offspring. In fact, high dietary levels of the vitamin in the absence of exercise did not lead to increases in SOD3.

Physical exercise is the easiest way to increase this protein

Although most of the investigation focuses on mice, the authors did also look at SOD3 levels in pregnant women, finding that those who exercised more did have higher levels of serum and placental SOD3 and that they appeared to be highest during the second trimester of pregnancy. Researchers say that in terms of clinical application, it looks like the most efficient way to raise levels of the SOD3 protein is still likely to be via physical exercise. There may also be clinical interest in using maternal serum levels of SOD3 as a biomarker to assess the benefits of exercise during pregnancy.

Study data hints that exercise in combination with optimal vitamin D levels might be particularly beneficial during the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. Although researchers can’t be definitive about this with the current findings, they now plan to look in detail at how diet and exercise type and timing might be optimized with maternal serum SOD3 measurements to obtain maximum benefits for offspring.

(With inputs from Agencies)

Published : March 31, 2021 4:48 pm

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