A new study shows reduced risk of cardiovascular problems for babies of obese women who have undergone bariatric surgery prior to pregnancy. The study showed that, after the mothers had lost weight via weight loss surgery, babies have fewer cardiovascular risk factors than brothers and sisters born before the mother had the surgery. But it is not just down to the weight loss.
The assumption is that the mother’s weight loss alone triggers positive changes in her baby’s outcomes but the research shows that there are other elements of bariatric surgery that prove beneficial to the unborn child. It is thought that bariatric surgery can alter the baby’s genetic code, switching off the genes that contribute to obesity and obesity related health issues, including heart disease.
The study, conducted in Canada, is part of a series of studies on epigenetics, the look at how environmental factors can influence genetics. It is accepted that our genes, lifestyle and environment all contribute to our health and health issues, especially cancer, but epigenetic scientists believe that they could find (and deactivate) the genetic key to treating psychiatric illness, obesity, heart disease and a range of other conditions.
Molecules called methyl groups can turn genes on or off, in a process called DNA methylation. When some genes are switched on the risks of cancer, heart disease and other serious diseases are increased. In finding the methylated genes common to large numbers of the same condition, it may be possible to isolate the genes, and find the ‘key’. This is why two people with the same genes, such as identical twins, can have different states of health. Although they have identical genes, some of those genes are expressed in one twin and not the other, or vice versa.
Researchers looked at the blood samples of 25 children aged between 2 and 24, born to 20 mothers before they had bariatric surgery, with an average BMI of 45. They also took blood from 25 children born to the same mothers after they had weight loss surgery (with an average BMI of 27).
The DNA in the blood samples was examined to look for DNA methylation. They looked at more than 5,500 genes, looking for not one ‘fat gene’ but a series of genes that could contribute to obesity and obesity-related illnesses. The results showed that sibling had very different DNA profiles, depending on whether they were born before or after their mother had weight loss surgery.
The researchers involved expressed their hope that the study would highlight the risks to the fetus if the mother is overweight and the life-long benefits to a baby whose mother has weight loss surgery before getting pregnant. The benefits of weight loss surgery are particularly strong if the mother was also suffering from obesity-related conditions, such as diabetes, prior to surgery. If a mother-to be is otherwise healthy and has a BMI of 30, it is possible that the baby will benefit from a healthy heart through the mother’s natural weight loss.
If you want to start a family and are overweight with obesity related health conditions, or have struggled to lose weight, then maybe you should consider bariatric surgery. At Weight Loss Surgery Mexico we offer a range of weight loss procedures, performed by our world class team of bariatric surgeons with the support of our experienced nutritionists.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help make you and your family healthier and happier, contact us and a member of the weight loss team will call you back.