Health Warning for Offspring of Mothers Who Used Atkins Diet

April 12, 2005
The Herald (Glasgow)
by Martyn McLaughlin

THE children of Scotswomen who followed a low-carb Atkins-style diet in the 1960s may suffer from increased stress levels.

Researchers from Edinburgh University believe an unbalanced diet during pregnancy could cause long-term health problems for offspring such as diabetes and heart disease.

Now they have begun a study targeting almost 1000 men and women born in Motherwell in the late 1960s whose mothers had their food intake recorded during pregnancy. It is hoped the study will help determine how best to improve a mother’s nutrition during pregnancy.

The research team - from Edinburgh and the University of Southampton - will look at the effects of an Atkins-type high-meat, low-carbohydrate diet in late pregnancy and how the Motherwell focus group responds to a mental stress test.

Dr Rebecca Reynolds, of Edinburgh University’s medical sciences division, who is leading the study, said the Motherwell research could prove invaluable.

She said: “We now know that growth from the very earliest days in the womb affects health in adulthood, particularly the risks of heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. If the mother eats an unbalanced diet, this can trigger her body to produce increased amounts of stress hormones, which can then have long-term effects on the stress responses of her unborn baby.”

The 957 men and women involved in the research have already been checked for raised blood pressure and high-blood sugar levels. It was found that those whose mothers had less balanced diets grew up to have higher blood pressure, altered blood sugar levels and higher amounts of stress hormones.