London: A poor diet before conception could put the baby at risk of developing type II diabetes and obesity, researchers say. Mice that were fed a low protein diet for 10 weeks before conception (but had a normal diet during pregnancy) gave birth to offspring that had lower birth weights, showed catch-up growth after weaning and increased insulin sensitivity.

Humans and mice respond in the same way to poor diet during pregnancy; their offspring show low birth weights and increased risk of obesity, type II diabetes, the most common form of the disease and cardiovascular disease.

'If humans respond in the same way as mice to pre-conception diet as well then women  should not only consider what they eat during pregnancy but also before pregnancy,' says Anete Dudele from the University of Aarhus, Denmark, who conducted the study.

Cardiovascular disease is often associated with obesity and type II diabetes and future research by the team will determine whether offspring born to mothers who had poor pre-conception diets are predisposed to these types of problems as well, according to an Aarhus statement.

These findings were presented at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Conference in Glasgow.

(Agencies)