Dr. Angela Devlin
University of British Columbia
Expectant mothers know they are eating for two - but how does this shared diet affect the child’s future health? Pediatric researcher Dr. Angela Devlin is investigating whether a woman’s diet during pregnancy can influence the way her unborn child’s genes - which can determine the child’s future risk for heart disease and stroke - are turned ‘on’ and ‘off.’
We have only recently begun to explore how what we eat can affect the way our genes function. Dr. Devlin, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia, is looking at the amino acid homocysteine, elevations of which are associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. If a mother’s diet creates high levels of this agent in her body during pregnancy, it could change the development of heart tissue in her unborn child and set the stage for cardiovascular disease in the future.
By revealing the molecular interactions that might create this outcome, Dr. Devlin is looking forward to shedding new light on how diet interacts with our genes and affects risk for heart disease and stroke. Ultimately these findings could lead to new approaches to testing children for susceptibility to these problems. More immediately, she would like to expand and improve the advice given to women about how they should eat during pregnancy.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation congratulates Dr. Devlin for this outstanding work, which we are proud to support.