By Sarah A LoBisco, ND

Last week I mentioned on my homepage blog the connection between a mom’s dietary intake and her baby’s outcome. Specifically, supplementation with DHA, an omega 3 fatty acid, supported better birth outcomes regarding birth weight and preterm delivery.

I discussed the power of our choices of parents on their offspring.  A recent article in Washington Post recently explained this concept:

The finding, obtained from detailed DNA scans in developing mouse eggs and sperm, backs up mounting indirect evidence that the genetic impacts of environmental factors such as smoking, diet, stressed childhoods, famine and psychiatric disease can be passed down to future generations through a process called epigenetic inheritance. Many geneticists had considered this an impossibility.

Genes can be switched off by altering DNA through a chemical process called methylation, in which enzymes respond to environmental factors by marking genes with methyl groups that prevent them from working.

I also spoke in the past how the environment we surround our children with have powerful health consequences for them. A recent study in Pediatrics demonstrated this connection. In this study, which included 119 children diagnosed with ADHD, ADHD prevalence and pesticide exposure were directly linked, as measured by urinary metabolites. The authors concluded:

These findings support the hypothesis that organophosphate exposure, at levels common among US children, may contribute to ADHD prevalence. Prospective studies are needed to establish whether this association is causal.

In a similar theme, a study in Reproductive Disease and Sperm Epimutation with mice, found plastic exposure could affect fertility down more than one future generation.

Breastfeeding for Better Health Outcomes

In keeping with this important topic of better health for our children, below is some information for expecting moms who are contemplating the benefits of breastfeeding:

The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breast feeding for the first 6 months of life for good reason. Breastfeeding plays a role in supplying key nutrients for development of a healthy baby and sets up their body’s immune system. It can also be a key factor in brain and nervous system health.

One study in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research demonstrated significant positive growth and survival factors in the development of the enteric nervous system (or the gut-brain). The study used rat cells cultured in breast milk and measured increases in growth factors of the nervous system.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), breast feeding has far reaching impacts:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be fed nothing but breast milk for about the first 6 months and continue breastfeeding for at least 1 year.
  • Babies who are fed formula and stop breastfeeding early have higher risks of obesity, diabetes, respiratory and ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and tend to require more doctor visits, hospitalizations, and prescriptions.
  • Low rates of breastfeeding add $2.2 billion a year to medical costs.
  • Mothers who breastfeed have lower risks of breast and ovarian cancers.

Furthermore, breastfeeding may provide an answer to the rising rates of childhood obesity.

A baby’s risk of becoming an overweight child goes down with each month of breastfeeding. In the US, most babies start breastfeeding, but within the first week, half have already been given formula, and by 9 months, only 31% of babies are breastfeeding at all.

For more information, see the links below.

Thyroid Health and Feeling “Off”

Are you feeling mood changes, anxiety, fatigue, low sex drive, weight changes, hair and skin changes, digestive issues, and fluid retention? Then don’t miss this week’s blog on on thyroid health!


Andy Coghlan and New Scientist. Genetic reactions to stress might be felt in later generations, mouse studies show. Washington Post. February 4, 2013.

Manikkam M, Tracey R, Guerrero-Bosagna C, Skinner MK (2013) Plastics Derived Endocrine Disruptors (BPA, DEHP and DBP) Induce Epigenetic Transgenerational Inheritance of Obesity, Reproductive Disease and Sperm Epimutations. PLoS ONE 8(1): e55387. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055387.

Maryse F Bouchard, David C Bellinger, Robert O Wright, & Marc G Weisskopf. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and urinary metabolites of organophosphate pesticides. (Abstract). Pediatrics. 2010 Jun ;125(6):e1270-7. Epub 2010 May 17. PMID: 20478945

Margie King. Pesticides May Increase Risk of ADHD in Children. February 20, 2013.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hospital Support for Breastfeeding: Preventing obesity begins in hospitals. CDC VitalSigns. August 2011.

Fichter M, Klotz M, Hirschberg DL, Waldura B, Schofer O, Ehnert S, Schwarz LK, Ginneken CV, Schäfer KH. Breast milk contains relevant neurotrophic factors and cytokines for enteric nervous system development (abstract). Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Oct;55(10):1592-6. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201100124. Epub 2011 Aug 2.

World Health Organization. Health Topics: Breastfeeding. WHO 2013.


Dr. Sarah: Epigenetics: The Power of Health Choices in Children.

Dr. Sarah: For the Sake of Our Children: Childhood Obesity Part II:

Dr. Sarah: Mood Imbalances Part III: The Thyroid-Depression Connection:

Environmental Impacts: Children More At Risk. 12/5/12.

Protecting our Children’s Heath & Their World. 12/5/12.

Putting our Children’s Future First: The Environmental Impacts on Development. 12/14/12.

The Importance of Thyroid Health and Breastfeeding: