PORTLAND, Ore. –

In a new study by Oregon Health & Science University, it is found that eating a high-fat diet during pregnancy could harm the developing baby’s liver.

Being obese has negative health effects regardless of the individual’s situation but can potentially harm development of the unborn baby. The relationship specifically found in the study relates a high-fat diet and the development of certain stem cells in the liver of the developing baby.

Studying pregnant mice who were obese, scientists found the combination of a high-fat, high-sugar diet compromised the blood-forming, stem cell system in the developing baby’s liver.

This system is responsible for creating and sustaining the immune system.

Previous studies demonstrated that a diet high in sugar and saturated fats is harmful for the heart and circulatory system, but until now, they did not confirm that obesity could harm the developing baby.

“In light of the spreading Western-style, high-fat diet and accompanying obesity epidemic, this study highlights the need to better understand the previous unrecognized susceptibility of the stem and progenitor cell system,” Peter Kurre, one of the researchers, said in a statement.

The study provides a backdrop to a rise in allergies and immune diseases in children, the scientists said.

The journal, Molecular Metabolism, published the findings of the study.

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Katrina Aman is an aspiring journalist who desires to be a person of positive influence. Particularly passionate about poverty alleviation and civil rights, she hopes her writing takes her where she can improve lives.