Placentas of female fetuses more sensitive to maternal diet
You are what your mother ate, to some extent; how much depends partly on whether you are a boy or a girl, new research shows.
A study in mice reveals that expectant mothers’ diets influence gene activity differently in the placentas of male and female offspring, researchers report online March 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The placentas of female fetuses proved most sensitive to maternal diet, producing more of a protein that responds to estrogen, say researchers led by Cheryl Rosenfeld, a reproductive biologist at the University of Missouri in Columbia. The extra sensitivity could make female offspring more susceptible to estrogen-mimicking chemicals in the environment.
“The idea that maternal diet is affecting placental proteins is a neat observation,” says Retha Newbold, an emeritus reproductive and developmental biologist with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle