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SALT LAKE CITY -- Can what you eat while pregnant determine your child's risk for obesity? New research says yes.
Researchers in New Zealand found that what a pregnant mother eats could actually alter the DNA of her baby.
Their study used tissue from the umbilical cord to measure the rate of DNA change in the embryo. The findings suggest moms-to-be should load up on carbohydrates like bread, rice and other grains in order to help their child avoid obesity and diabetes later in life.
Researchers think embryos that exist in a carb-poor environment anticipate they will be born into a situation where food is scare and stored fat is needed.
Their DNA and their bodies form accordingly, storing more fat for more energy -- which can lead to obesity.
Brandon Reynolds, OBGYN with University of Utah Health Care called this study a near breakthrough.
"Near breakthrough because we don't have the full picture yet, but definitely looking at the genetics involved and the simple modification of diet, it could be really the breakthrough of the century," he said.
Farmers actually initiated this research. While feeding sheep herds, they found the amount of protein and carbs the animals ate affected the birth weight of lambs.
Researchers hope the study will lead to more specific diet recommendations for pregnant women.