Fetal nutrition and cardiovascular disease in adult life

Lancet. 1993 Apr 10;341(8850):938-41. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(93)91224-a.


Babies who are small at birth or during infancy have increased rates of cardiovascular disease and non-insulin-dependent diabetes as adults. Some of these babies have low birthweights, some are small in relation to the size of their placentas, some are thin at birth, and some are short at birth and fail to gain weight in infancy. This paper shows how fetal undernutrition at different stages of gestation can be linked to these patterns of early growth. The fetuses' adaptations to undernutrition are associated with changes in the concentrations of fetal and placental hormones. Persisting changes in the levels of hormone secretion, and in the sensitivity of tissues to them, may link fetal undernutrition with abnormal structure, function, and disease in adult life.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Body Height
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / blood
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / complications*
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / blood
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / complications*
  • Infant Nutrition Disorders / metabolism
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Small for Gestational Age
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / chemistry
  • Male
  • Nutrition Disorders / complications*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications*
  • Risk Factors


  • Insulin
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Hydrocortisone