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Effects of High-Fat Diets on Fetal Growth in Rodents: A Systematic Review

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Background: Maternal nutrition during pregnancy has life-long consequences for offspring. However, the effects of maternal overnutrition and/ or obesity on fetal growth remain poorly understood, e.g., it is not clear why birthweight is increased in some obese pregnancies but not in others. Maternal obesity is frequently studied using rodents on highfat diets, but effects on fetal growth are inconsistent. The purpose of this review is to identify factors that contribute to reduced or increased fetal growth in rodent models of maternal overnutrition.Methods: We searched Web of Science and screened 2173 abstracts and 328 full texts for studies that fed mice or rats diets providing ~ 45% or ~ 60% calories from fat for 3 weeks or more prior to pregnancy. We identified 36 papers matching the search criteria that reported birthweight or fetal weight.Results: Studies that fed 45% fat diets to mice or 60% fat diets to rats generally did not show effects on fetal growth. Feeding a 45% fat diet to rats generally reduced birth and fetal weight. Feeding mice a 60% fat diet for 4–9 weeks prior to pregnancy tended to increase in fetal growth, whereas feeding this diet for a longer period tended to reduce fetal growth.Conclusions: The high-fat diets used most often with rodents do not closely match Western diets and frequently reduce fetal growth, which is not a typical feature of obese human pregnancies. Adoption of standard protocols that more accurately mimic effects on fetal growth observed in obese human pregnancies will improve translational impact in this field.
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Christians, Julian & Lennie, Kendra & K. Wild, Lisa & Garcha, Raajan. (2019). Effects of high-fat diets on fetal growth in rodents: A systematic review. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology. 17. 10.1186/s12958-019-0482-y. DOI: 10.1186/s12958-019-0482-y
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Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology
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Effects of high-fat diets on fetal growth in rodents: A systematic review
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