How Your Pregnancy Could Affect Your Grandchildren
It shouldn't come as any great surprise that what mothers do (and don't do) during their pregnancies can affect their children.
From eating too much or too little to the amount of sleep they get to the type of medications they take, every action has a direct impact on the fragile development of a baby's complete body system—right down to the ways we aren't even able to comprehend yet.
But what may come as a surprise is the fact that one mother's pregnancy may affect more than just her children—
It could even affect future generations.
A new study out of Science magazine found that in female mice who were malnourished, curiously enough, the sperm of their male offspring were permanently altered.
Obviously, the study was on mice and not pregnant women (ethics, you know), but according to lead geneticist Anne Ferguson-Smith of the University of Cambridge, the study provides one of the most compelling pieces of evidence to prove that mother’s environment during pregnancy can change DNA in ways that can be passed on to her offspring.
Imagine the possibilities there—overeating could lead to obesity, depression could lead to chemical changes in the brain, happiness could change serotonin levels, and so on and so forth. Anything is possible and what's most awe inspiring about a study like this is watching a future generation unfold before our eyes. One woman's pregnancy could affect the genetic make-up of her entire lineage. Crazy.
But there was a hang-up to the study (besides the obvious mouse factor): researchers weren't able to prove that the changes were long lasting, so there's no telling how far down the lineage the DNA changes would last. And as one final comment, epigenetics researcher Oliver Rando of the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester called the study “nice,” but ultimately said it's not really a definite answer.
So until then, I will be enjoying the rest of my pregnancy not stressing about how that gallon of ice cream I ate last night could affect my great-great-grandaughter's body image.