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Women Who Diet Severely More Likely to Have Children Prone to Diabetes

Feb 6, 2007

“When malnutrition occurs to women of childbearing age, their offspring will inherit abnormal mitochondrion.” A research team at the Korea Cancer Center Hospital, including Lee Yoon-yong and professors of the Seoul National University College of Medicine Lee Hong-gyu and Park Kyung-su, reported, “When malnutrition occurs to women of childbearing age, their offspring will inherit abnormal mitochondrion.” Mitochondrion is an apparatus within a cell that creates energy. A child inherits nearly all mitochondrion from his or her mother.

The research team kept feeding low-protein feed to pregnant lab rats from the beginning of gestation to birth and breast-feeding stages. This fodder contained three times less the amount of protein in ordinary feed.

The young rats were born 20 percent underweight due to malnourishment. Even after weaning and consuming solid food, the rats did not gain weight. After 20 weeks, the team removed the pancreas of the rats and examined them through a microscope. In terms of human age, rats aged 20 weeks are in their twenties to thirties.

The results showed that the size of their beta cells that secreted insulin were dramatically smaller and scarcer than normal. The mitochondrion in their beta cells were reduced and were contorted into extended shapes. The team concluded that the offspring of the female rat inherited its mitochondrion from its malnourished mother.

The professor said, “When there’s a problem with the mitochondrion, the insulin secreted from the pancreas that breaks down glucose decreases, limiting the function of insulin in the liver or muscles and bringing on diabetes or obesity. This is the reason why malnourished female North Korean defectors get overweight in South Korea.” The nutrients accumulate in the body because they are decomposed and cannot be used for activity.

The study results presented on February 2-3 at the “Fourth Asian Society for Mitochondrial Research and Medicine” to be held at the Seoul National University Hospital.


Oral Insulin To Prevent Type 1 Diabetes Tested In Study: Researchers have begun a clinical study of oral insulin to prevent or delay type 1 diabetes in at-risk people, in more than 100 medical centers across the United States, Canada, Europe, and Australia. “Our goal is to prevent type 1 diabetes or to delay it as long as possible. If diabetes can be delayed, even for several years, those at risk will be spared the difficult challenges of controlling glucose and the development of complications for that much longer,” said TrialNet study chair Jay Skyler, M.D., of the University of Miami. In the study, researchers are testing whether an insulin capsule taken by mouth once a day can prevent or delay diabetes in a specific group of people at risk for type 1 diabetes. An earlier trial suggested that oral insulin might delay type 1 diabetes for about four years in some people with autoantibodies to insulin in their blood. Animal studies have also suggested that insulin taken orally may prevent type 1 diabetes. Some scientists think that introducing insulin via the digestive tract induces tolerance, or a quieting of the immune system. Insulin taken orally has no side effects because the digestive system breaks it down quickly. To lower blood glucose, insulin must be injected or administered by an insulin pump. NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases Feb. 2007