The chances of being obese and having diabetes may be pre-programmed in the womb. Direct evidence has shown a baby’s brain response to sugar given to its mother can be related with the mother’s sensitivity to insulin.
Diabetes or excessive weight in the mother has been recognized to affect foetal growth and also future development after delivery. Babies of obese or diabetic women also possess a higher chance for type 2 diabetes and obesity in adulthood, separate to their hereditary background. The causes of these changes are not clear, though environmental influences on the genes could be involved. A significant factor is the so-called foetal programming system, whereby the mother’s exposure to environmental factors could affect programming of the genes in her unborn baby.
The experts determined that, “Lower maternal insulin sensitivity is associated with slower foetal brain responses. These findings provide the first evidence of a direct effect of maternal metabolism on foetal brain activity and suggest that central insulin resistance may be programmed during foetal development.”