Étude des déterminants génétiques et épigénétiques de l'obésité infantile


Valérie Gagné-Ouellet

CIUSSS du Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean


Domaine : Santé de la mère, des enfants et des adolescents

Programme : Formation de doctorat

Concours 2017-2018


Fondation des Étoiles

Childhood obesity is a concerning health problem since more than 43 millions of children are affected worldwide. The third of Canadian children are overweight or obese, which increases risk of developing diabetes and heart disease in adulthood, along with decreases of life expectancy.

Diabetes in pregnancy is one of the principal cause of childhood obesity. Diabetes in pregnancy is characterised by an increase in mothers' blood sugar (glucose). This glucose crosses the placenta and increase baby's blood glucose. Even if the relationship between diabetes in pregnancy and childhood obesity has been widely investigated, scientists are still trying to identify responsible mechanisms involved in this harmful link, in order to stop the progression of obesity, diabetes and heart diseases.

Epigenetic modifications could connect diabetes in pregnancy and childhood obesity. Epigenetic modifications consist in adding a regulatory molecule on the DNA without changing the sequence. This phenomenon acts in genetic as accents in French language by changing the word without changing the letters. Those chemical accents are placed on DNA within fetal life and could be conserved lifelong. They are thus quite susceptible of affecting health in any moment of life even if they are added or removed within fetal development, in response to unfavourable pregnancy. Our team already identified some of these accents in offspring from diabetic mothers. The principal aim of the present project is to determine if the presence or absence of these chemical accents in fetal development could help predicting the risk of childhood obesity.