Developmental origins of metabolic disease: life course and intergenerational perspectives

Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Apr;21(4):199-205. doi: 10.1016/j.tem.2009.12.008. Epub 2010 Jan 14.


Recent evidence demonstrates important maternal effects on an offspring's risk of developing metabolic disease. These effects extend across the full range of maternal environments and partly involve epigenetic mechanisms. The maternal effects can be explained in evolutionary terms, and there is some evidence for their transmission into succeeding generations. Unbalanced maternal diet or body composition, ranging from poor to rich environments, adversely influences the offspring's response to later challenges such as an obesogenic diet or physical inactivity, increasing the risk of disease. Adopting a life course approach that takes into account intergenerational effects has important implications for prevention of non-communicable diseases, particularly in populations undergoing rapid economic transition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Female
  • Fetal Development / genetics
  • Humans
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Metabolic Diseases / genetics*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / genetics
  • Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena