So, in this study, she and her team identified 27 different sites where variations in DNA methylation were observed and seemed specific to the placenta– an organ that is critical for fetal growth and development.
Interestingly, many of the sites were located near genes related to obesity and are also “enriched” in metabolic pathways for oxidative stress and cancer.
“That doesn’t mean that babies born to mothers with obesity problems will go on to develop cancer,” Fernández-Jiménez noted.
But, the placenta does behave like a tumor since it grows very quickly– pushing the researchers to believe that there is an impact on placental functioning and fetal growth.
In turn, the team suggested that placental DNA methylation might be one mechanism by which maternal obesity is linked to adverse metabolic health outcomes during childhood.
Still, Fernández-Jiménez did stress that additional studies are needed to confirm these findings and added that “mother blaming” should not be the go-to response to the study’s results.
“However legitimate our research may be, it should not be used to justify the mantra of mother-blaming, as it is very difficult to quantify the influence of mothers and their characteristics and behaviors versus other factors– such as mothers’ parents or partners, families, society itself and the environment– surrounding the fetus and the newborn because they have never been so thoroughly researched,” she said.
To read the study’s complete findings, which have since been published in Communications Biology, visit the link here.
If true crime defines your free time, this is for you: join Chip Chick’s True Crime Tribe