Fetal Programming Hypothesis

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The World Health Organization reported that sixty eight percent of deaths were attributable to noncommunicable diseases including cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease, and diabetes (http://www.who.int/gho/ncd/en/). WHO reports unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and alcohol or tobacco are characteristics that lead to adult disease; however, WHO does not report that chronic disease begins in utero. Fetal environment during gestation has an impact on birth weight resulting in chronic disease fifty to sixty years later. Many hypotheses of the impacts of fetal birth weight have been presented including the fetal origins hypothesis and the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. Ideas such as fetal programming, developmental …show more content…
Barker determined that individuals with a lower birth weight had an increased incidence of developing heart disease as an adult. Barker’s “Fetal Origins Hypothesis” determined that newborns with smaller birth weight than average have higher rates of coronary heart disease in adulthood with increased chance of death due to the disease (http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.6998.171). The biological process of fetal “programming” is the process in which various stimuli during pregnancy, such as nutrition and hormones, can impact an individual throughout its lifetime (Barker 1998). Critical phases are the stages in gestation whereby fetal programming is most sensitive due to the developmental plasticity of the fetus. Later in pregnancy, there is a loss of plasticity, so exposure to malnutrition or different essential nutrients will impact the fetus at varying rates throughout the pregnancy. Based on birth weights, a variety of outcomes can occur later in life including certain precursors to disease including precursors to disease such as hypertension, insulin resistance, and inconsistent hormones levels (Kuzawa, Gluckman, Hanson, & Beedle, 2007). These precursors can result in the most common noncommunicable diseases: cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, obesity, and cancer. In addition to chronic disease, impacts in growth and development affects adult body size, muscle mass and the number of neurons located throughout the …show more content…
Mismatch can lead to worsened health since individuals who are prepared for malnutrition postnatal will store nutrients for later use in the case of starvation in the future. Storing foods for later use in the body leads to overweight individuals and disease in adulthood. Studies have shown that mismatch can lead to worsened health in adulthood based on different levels of nutrient

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