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Peter Baker, MD

Gestational Diabetes and Maternal Obesity: Dysfunctional Offspring Cellular Metabolism and Prevention Through Altered Maternal Diet

Obesity is a major world health concern which has its most basic origins in fetal exposure to maternal over-nutrition. Maternal obesity and gestational diabetes (GDM) place the offspring at risk for obesity and earlier, more severe metabolic syndrome. We hypothesize that the conventional, higher fat GDM therapeutic diet may be detrimental to offspring at the cellular level, programming them to handle and store macronutrients differently than their peers. This highly collaborative project employs a novel model using umbilical cord derived mesenchymal stem cells to examine the effects of maternal GDM dietary therapy in offspring energy metabolism, amino acid utilization, and lipid oxidation in muscle and fat. Outcomes are measured against prenatal exposure and infant adiposity to demonstrate the beneficial effects of a lower fat therapeutic maternal diet, both at the cellular level and clinically in offspring development. Our results may influence the way gestational diabetes is treated, and moreover provide a preventative intervention for fetal programming in obesity.