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Effects of a poor diet during pregnancy may be reversed in female adolescent offspring

New research in The FASEB Journal identifies adolescence as a developmental window in which the brain and behavior remain responsive to dietary changes which also enhance motivation and learning

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Here's some good news if you are female: Research published online in The FASEB Journal, shows that in mice, what is eaten during adolescence or childhood development may alter long-term behavior and learning, and can even "rescue" females from the negative effects on behavior resulting from a poor maternal diet during pregnancy.

"These are provocative findings," said Thoru Pederson, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal." So many effects during pregnancy have been touted as irreversible--perhaps not always so. "

In their study Reyes and colleagues used four groups of female mice. The first group was fed a control diet during pregnancy and lactation. The second group was fed a high-fat diet during pregnancy and lactation. The third was also fed a nutrient-enriched diet during early life. The fourth group included offspring from the mice fed a high-fat diet that were fed the nutrient-enriched diet during early life. When all mice were adults, they were fed the same control diet for the remainder of their lives. Researchers then used operant behavior chambers (chambers in which a mouse must nose-poke into a hole to get a reward) to examine learning and motivation. They found that the female offspring who were fed the nutrient-enriched diet during early life learned faster and were more motivated to obtain the sugar reward. Furthermore, the nutrient supplementation also reversed some of the deficits observed due to high-fat feeding during pregnancy.


Submit to The FASEB Journal by visiting, and receive monthly highlights by signing up at The FASEB Journal is published by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). It is among the world's most cited biology journals according to the Institute for Scientific Information and has been recognized by the Special Libraries Association as one of the top 100 most influential biomedical journals of the past century.

FASEB is composed of 30 societies with more than 125,000 members, making it the largest coalition of biomedical research associations in the United States. Its mission is to advance health and welfare by promoting progress and education in biological and biomedical sciences through service to our member societies and collaborative advocacy.

Details: Sarah E. McKee, Nicola M. Grissom, Christopher T. Herdt, and Teresa M. Reyes. Methyl donor supplementation alters cognitive performance and motivation in female offspring from high-fat diet-fed dams. FASEB J. doi:10.1096/fj.201601172R ;

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