EMPHASIS is a joint initiative between research institutes in the UK, India and The Gambia, established to investigate the epigenetic mechanisms by which maternal nutrition before and during pregnancy could influence offspring health. This study brings together two previous randomized controlled trials investigating the effectiveness of maternal dietary intervention on fetal development: the Mumbai Maternal Nutrition Project (MMNP) in India and the Peri-conceptional Multiple Micronutrient Supplementation Trial (PMMST) in rural Gambia. Here we extend this work to characterize DNA methylation - an epigenetic mechanism involved in the regulation of gene expression - in the children of these mothers, and attempt to link this to later life health outcomes.
The study has been funded by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), India and the Medical Research Council and Department for International Development, UK under the Newton Fund initiative. Through EMPHASIS we hope in future to give better advice about nutrition to young women planning their pregnancies, thereby working towards improvement of maternal and child health and inter-generational prevention of non-communicable chronic diseases.