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The Obstetric Origins of Health for a Lifetime


Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology: September 2013 - Volume 56 - Issue 3 - p 511–519
doi: 10.1097/GRF.0b013e31829cb9ca
Fetal Origins of Adult Disease

There is a new “developmental” model for the origins of a wide range of chronic diseases. Under this model the causes to be identified are linked to normal variations in fetoplacental development. These variations are thought to lead to variations in the supply of nutrients to the baby that permanently alter gene expression, a process known as “programming.” According to the developmental model variations in the processes of development program the function of a few key systems that are linked to disease, including the immune system, antioxidant defenses, inflammatory responses, and the number and quality of stem cells.

*MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK;

Moore Institute and Heart Research Center, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon

The authors declare that they have nothing to disclose.

Correspondence: David J.P. Barker, MD, PhD, MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Mail Point 95, Southampton General Hospital, SO16 6YD, UK. E-mail:

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.