Low birthweight in relation to the length of gestation, is now known to be associated with increased rates of coronary heart disease and the related disorders stroke, hypertension and type 2 diabetes. These associations extend across the whole range of birthweight, which implies that normal variations in nutrient delivery to the fetus have profound long-term effects. The associations are thought to reflect the body's plasticity during development, by which its structure and function can be permanently changed by the intra uterine and early post natal environment. Slow growth during infancy and rapid weight gain after the age of two years exacerbate the effect of slow fetal growth. Cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes arise through a series of interactions between environmental influences and the pathways of development that precede them.