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Int J Obes Suppl. 2012;2:S7-S13.

The Impact of Maternal High-Fat Diet Consumption on Neural Development and Behavior of Offspring.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, University of Portland, Portland, OR, USA ; Division of Neuroscience, Oregon National Primate Research Center, Beaverton, OR, USA.
2
Department of Biology, University of Portland, Portland, OR, USA.
3
Division of Neuroscience, Oregon National Primate Research Center, Beaverton, OR, USA.

Abstract

Maternal diet and metabolic state are important factors in determining the environment experienced during perinatal development. Epidemiological studies and evidence from animal models provide evidence that a mother's diet and metabolic condition are important in programming the neural circuitry that regulates behavior, resulting in a persistent impact on the offspring's behavior. Potential mechanisms by which maternal diet and metabolic profile influence the perinatal environment include placental dysfunction and increases in circulating factors such as inflammatory cytokines, nutrients (glucose and fatty acids) and hormones (insulin and leptin). Maternal obesity and high-fat diet (HFD) consumption exposure during development have been observed to increase the risk of developing serious mental health and behavioral disorders including anxiety, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism spectrum disorder. The increased risk of developing these behavioral disorders is postulated to be due to perturbations in the development of neural pathways that regulate behavior, including the serotonergic, dopaminergic and melanocortinergic systems. It is critical to examine the influence that a mother's nutrition and metabolic profile have on the developing offspring considering the current and alarmingly high prevalence of obesity and HFD consumption in pregnant women.

KEYWORDS:

anxiety; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; autism spectrum disorders; depression; inflammation; maternal high fat diet; placental dysfunction

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