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Obesity in dads may be associated with offspring's increased risk of disease
Date:2/5/2013

enes may get 'shut off' as a result of environmental trauma."

To gather data on newborn health outcomes, the researchers followed families enrolled in the Newborn Epigenetics Study (NEST), a research program developed by Hoyo and funded by the National Institutes of Health to test the influence of environmental exposures on genetic profiles in newborns.

Researchers gathered information about the mothers and fathers using questionnaires and medical records. They then examined DNA from the umbilical cords of 79 newborns to determine potential associations between the offspring's DNA methylation patterns and parental obesity before conception.

DNA methylation at the IGF2 gene in the offspring of obese fathers was significantly lower than in the children of fathers who were not obese. This suggests that paternal obesity may be associated with an increased risk of children developing certain cancers.

The researchers noted that the changes in DNA methylation could have been a result of something related to obesity, such as eating a certain diet or having diabetes, that was not measured in this study.

Additional research is underway to see if these changes in DNA methylation at the IGF2 gene remain as the children grow older. Future studies may also determine if certain interventions similar to women taking folic acid while pregnant to prevent birth defects can be used prior to or after conception to prevent irregular methylation profiles.

"This study is an important start in looking at the effects of environmental exposure on children, not only through the mother but also through the father," said Soubry. "Although we cannot define at this point which obesity-related factor may cause an epigenetic effect, we measured in this study a significant association between paternal obesity and aberrant methylation profiles in the offspring."


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Contact: Rachel Harrison
rachel.harrison@duke.edu
919-419-5069
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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