Overseas medical insurance customers should be aware that what they eat during pregnancy may impact the long-term health of their offspring.
Recent research co-founded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) found that mothers who follow a low-protein diet while pregnant could impact the gene HNF-4a of their child.
Led by a senior researcher at the University of Cambridge, the study looked at a group of rats and found those who were given a low-protein diet during pregnancy had smaller offspring, which developed Type 2 diabetes later in life.
Diabetes can be linked to the HNF-4a gene, which controls the production of insulin in the body.
Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at BHF, commented: "The reasons why are not well understood, but this study in rats adds to the evidence that a mother’s diet may sometimes alter the control of certain genes in her unborn child.
"It's no reason for expectant mothers to be unduly worried. This research doesn't change our advice that pregnant women should try to eat a healthy, balanced diet."