Preventing Obesity and Diabetes in Children

Preventing Obesity and Diabetes in Children

Babies born to mothers who eat a high-fat diet during pregnancy are at increased risk of obesity and diabetes in early childhood. A new study in mice by Maureen Charron, Ph.D., Sandra Reznik, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues and  published online on May 19 in Diabetes found that administering the anti-inflammatory antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) during pregnancy may help prevent those adverse effects.

Pregnant mice fed the equivalent of a human high-fat diet were given NAC in their drinking water. NAC prevented weight gain in the mothers as well as resistance to leptin, a hormone that signals the brain to stop eating. Compared with the offspring of control mice that did not receive NAC, the offspring of NAC-receiving mothers had normal postnatal weight gain, decreased white adipose tissue and liver fat, and improved glucose and insulin tolerance that persisted for the life of the offspring.

The results suggest that NAC could potentially reduce the incidence of childhood obesity and diabetes among children of mothers who consume a typical Western high-fat diet. Dr. Charron is professor of biochemistry, of medicine, and of obstetrics & gynecology and women's health at Einstein. Dr. Reznik is an associate professor of pathology and obstetrics & gynecology and women's health at Einstein and director of perinatal pathology at Montefiore.