The common misconception that pregnant mothers need to eat more to supply for the child’s development has been debunked by a recent study.
According to a group of international researchers, the digestive system of the mother adjusts to the presence of the baby, allowing for increased absorption of energy even with the same amount of food intake.
The study, published in the eLife journal, investigated the fruit fly as a model for human anatomy. Study co-author Dr. Jake Jacobson of the Clinical Sciences Centre of the Medical Research Council (MRC) in London explained that the biology inside the body of a fruit fly is similar to humans. “Many of the fly genes that we studied exist in humans. Flies also utilize and store fat like we do, and their metabolism is controlled by similar hormones,” Jacobson said in a news release. Results of the study may also explain the reason why many women find it difficult to get rid of excess weight after pregnancy.
Through the study, a newly discovered hormone — called “juvenile hormone” — commands the digestive system to prepare for the growth of an additional human being in the mother’s body. This particular hormone was found to alter the metabolism of fat in the body. “This research points to a new scientific explanation why eating for two during pregnancy is not necessary, and may even be harmful, as a growing body of evidence indicates that a mother’s diet can impact a child’s propensity to be obese in later life,” said MRC population and systems medicine chief Dr. Joe McNamara.