Publications are like buses. You wait ages for one to come and then three come along at once. This month we have three papers out, covering a diverse range of subject matter.
Impact of cafeteria feeding during lactation in the rat on novel object discrimination in the offspring
There is increasing evidence that hyperenergetic diets have an impact on memory in rodents. However, it is largely unknown how diets, such as a cafeteria diet (CD), that mimic a Western-type diet act on learning and memory, in particular when fed during early stages of development. Here, we fed lactating dams a CD and exposed both male and female offspring to a novel object discrimination (NOD) task, a two-trial test of recognition memory in which rats exposed to two identical objects during a training/familiarisation trial can discriminate a novel from a familiar object during the subsequent choice trial. The choice trial was performed following inter-trial interval (ITI) delays of up to 4 h. Maternal diet did not have an impact on exploration of the objects by either sex during the familiarisation trial. Control males discriminated the novel from the familiar object, indicating intact memory with an ITI of 1 h, but not 2 or 4 h. The CD delayed this natural forgetting in male rats such that discrimination was also evident after a 2 h ITI. In contrast, control females exhibited discrimination following both 1 and 2 h ITI, but the CD impaired performance. In summary, the present study shows that maternal exposure to the CD programmes NOD in the adult. In better-performing females, dietary programming interferes with NOD, whereas NOD was improved in males after lactational CD feeding.
Nutrition in early life and the programming of adult disease: a review
Foetal development and infancy are life stages that are characterised by rapid growth, development and maturation of organs and systems. Variation in the quality or quantity of nutrients consumed by mothers during pregnancy, or infants during the first year of life, can exert permanent and powerful effects upon developing tissues. These effects are termed ‘programming’ and represent an important risk factor for noncommunicable diseases of adulthood, including the metabolic syndrome and coronary heart disease. This narrative review provides an overview of the evidence-base showing that indicators of nutritional deficit in pregnancy are associated with a greater risk of type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular mortality. There is also a limited evidence-base that suggests some relationship between breastfeeding and the timing and type of foods used in weaning, and disease in later life. Many of the associations reported between indicators of early growth and adult disease appear to interact with specific genotypes. This supports the idea that programming is one of several cumulative influences upon health and disease acting across the lifespan. Experimental studies have provided important clues to the mechanisms that link nutritional challenges in early life to disease in adulthood. It is suggested that nutritional programming is a product of the altered expression of genes that regulate the cell cycle, resulting in effective remodelling of tissue structure and functionality. The observation that traits programmed by nutritional exposures in foetal life can be transmitted to further generations adds weight the argument that heritable epigenetic modifications play a critical role in nutritional programming.
Limiting antenatal weight gain improves maternal health outcomes in severely obese pregnant women: findings of a pragmatic evaluation of a midwife-led intervention
Antenatal obesity in pregnancy is associated with complications of pregnancy and poor obstetric outcomes. Although most guidance on pregnancy weight is focused on the prepregnancy period, pregnancy is widely viewed as a period where women are open to lifestyle change to optimise their health.
The hospital-based Bumps and Beyond intervention invited all pregnant women with a body mass index (BMI) >35 kg m−2 to take part in a programme of health education around diet and exercise, accompanied by one-to-one guidance and monitoring of dietary change. This service evaluation compares 89 women who completed at a programme of seven sessions with healthy lifestyle midwives and advisors (intervention) versus a group of 89 women who chose not to attend (non-intervention).
Mean (SD) weight gain in the intervention group [4.5 (4.6) kg] was less than in the non-intervention group [10.3 (4.4) kg] between antenatal booking and 36 weeks of gestation (< 0.001). This was associated with a 95% reduction in the risk of gestational hypertension during pregnancy and a general reduction in pregnancy complications. There was no effect of the intervention upon gestational diabetes or complications in labour other than post-partum haemorrhage (reduced by 55%). The impact of the intervention on gestational weight gain was greater in women with BMI >40 kg m−2 at booking. There were no adverse effects of the intervention, even though 21% of the intervention group lost weight during their pregnancy.
Intensive, personalised weight management intervention may be an effective strategy for the prevention of hypertensive disorders during pregnancy.