Health research on maternity and infants: Link between babies’ mood and obesity; IVF and more

Plus: Results from study into frozen embryos study good for women with polycystic ovaries and a Mother’s diet affects generations.

Babies’ mood could signal obesity risks

A baby’s temperament could be an indicator of whether they are at higher risk for obesity, according to a study by University at Buffalo in New York.

Babies who are more easily upset and take longer to settle are more prone to obesity than those who “exhibit more cuddliness” and settle easily, the research suggests.

The study, published in August, involved 105 infants from the ages of 9 to 18 months receiving rewards – food and non-food – for completing increasingly difficult tasks, while the child’s temperament was assessed through a detailed online questionnaire completed by the parents.

“We found that infants that rated higher on what we call cuddliness – the baby’s expression of enjoyment and moulding of their body to being held – had lower food reinforcement,” said Kai Ling Kong, first author and assistant professor of paediatrics at the university’s Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “That means they were willing to work more for a non-food reward versus a food reward. So an infant who enjoyed being held closely by a caregiver was less motivated to work for food.”

Those who rated high on how quickly they recovered from crying or being distressed were also less motivated to work for food, compared with non-food alternatives.

Infants who rated lower on cuddliness and took longer to recover from distress, however, had higher food reinforcement and were willing to work harder for a food reward.

Mother’s diet affects generations

What pregnant women eat now could affect not just their children but future generations, according to a study at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis.

Overweight mothers who eat high-fat, high-sugar diets can put future generations at risk of metabolic problems, even if their immediate offspring eat healthily.

A study of mice, published in June, showed that a mother’s obesity and its associated metabolic problems could be inherited through mitochondrial DNA in the unfertilised egg. Mitochondria within the cells supply energy for metabolism and other biochemical processes. Mitochondria inherit their genes only from mothers, not fathers.

The diet fed to the mother mice resembled a western diet. “Basically, it’s like eating fast food every day,” said Kelle H Moley, the School of Medicine’s James P Crane Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and senior author of the study.

The offspring were then fed a controlled diet high in protein and low in fat and sugar, but still developed insulin resistance and other metabolic problems, as did the following two generations.

Results from study into frozen embryos

Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) who receive frozen embryos during IVF are likely to have safer and more successful pregnancies than those who receive fresh embryos.

A study conducted by Penn State College of Medicine and Chinese researchers found that the use of frozen embryos in women with PCOS, resulted in more live births, due to fewer pregnancy losses, and higher birth weights. Published in August, the study found using frozen embryos lowered the rate of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome – a condition in which an excess of injected hormones causes the ovaries to become swollen and painful – from 7.1 per cent to 1.3 per cent.

Fresh embryos are usually preferred for IVF, however frozen embryo transfer allows a woman’s ovaries to recover from ovarian stimulation during in vitro fertilisation and also gives time for her exposed endometrial lining to shed.

Published: September 21, 2016 04:00 AM

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