Maternal diet can affect offspring longevity, in mice at least. The finding, reported in a Brief Communication in the 29 January 2004 issue of Nature (Vol. 427, No. 6973), may have implications for pregnant and breast-feeding human mothers.
When mice are fed a normal diet of 20% protein through pregnancy and lactation, their offspring live for around 2 years. Offspring of mothers fed normally during pregnancy and subsequently suckled by mothers on low-protein diets lived an average of 2 months longer, report Susan E. Ozanne and C. Nicholas Hales. Offspring of mothers given low-protein diets while pregnant, then normal diets postnatally, died around 6 months earlier than controls. This effect was exacerbated when the youngsters were later fed a sugar-rich, cafeteria-style diet.
The findings may have relevance for human nutrition and growth. "At the two extremes, the difference in lifespan increased by over 50 per cent," the authors say.
Susan E. Ozanne
University of Cambridge
Tel: +44 1223 762636
(C) Nature press release.
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