Do epigenetics reports unfairly target mothers?

| | August 21, 2014
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

Epigenetics studies expand what scientists understand about human genetics. It’s a very cool field. It’s gathered some media attention, as the Nature piece noted, which is a great opportunity to teach general readers more about genetics.

However, the field is not ready to offer lessons on how to live healthfully, the Nature authors wrote. Nevertheless, the team found several news reports about epigenetics that include news-you-can-use takeaways aimed at pregnant women, with the idea that their choices may create epigenetic effects.

The Nature essay offers an example line, from a news report about an epigenetics study conducted in mice: “Pregnancy should be a time to double-down on healthful eating if you want to avoid setting up your unborn child for a lifetime of wrestling with obesity.”

Okay, so eating healthy during pregnancy is probably a good thing. An expectant mom’s obstetrician is going to tell her to do that, anyway. Still, the Nature authors worry that such warnings may turn into something more sinister.

“We’re worried that these kinds of claims could contribute to increased regulation and surveillance over women’s everyday behaviors,” the lead author, Sarah Richardson, says in a Nature podcast.

Read the full, original story: Epigenetics news articles put too much pressure on moms

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