The long-term effects of prenatal development on growth and metabolism

Godfrey, Keith M., Inskip, Hazel M. and Hanson, Mark A. (2011) The long-term effects of prenatal development on growth and metabolism Seminars in Reproductive Medicine, 29, (3), pp. 257-265. (doi:10.1055/s-0031-1275518). (PMID:21769765).


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People who were small at birth and had poor infant growth have an increased risk of adult cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and type 2 diabetes, particularly if their restricted early growth was followed by increased childhood weight gain. These relations extend across the normal range of birth size in a graded manner, so reduced size is not a prerequisite. In addition, larger birth size is associated with risks of obesity and type 2 diabetes. The associations appear to reflect developmental plastic responses made by the fetus and infant based on cues about the environment, influenced by maternal characteristics including diet, body composition, stress, and exercise levels. These responses involve epigenetic processes that modify the offspring's phenotype. Vulnerability to ill health results if the environment in infancy, childhood, and later life is mismatched to the phenotype induced in development, informed by the developmental cues. This mismatch may arise through unbalanced diet or body composition of the mother or a change in lifestyle factors between generations. These insights offer new possibilities for the early diagnosis and prevention of chronic disease.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1055/s-0031-1275518
Keywords: nutrition, fetal growth, metabolic disease, epigenetics

Organisations: Faculty of Medicine
ePrint ID: 198155
Date :
Date Event
May 2011Published
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2011 13:35
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 01:31
Further Information:Google Scholar

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