Hanson, Mark; Gluckman, Peter; Bier, Dennis; Challis, John; Fleming, Tom; Forrester, Terrence E.; Godfrey, Keith; Nestel, Penelope; Yajnik, Chittaranjan
Author Affiliation, Ana.
Tropical Medicine Research Institute
Report on the Second World Congress on Fetal Origins of Adult Disease
Date of Publication
In 1989, reports suggested that the fetal environment, as reflected in birth size, was related to the risk of noncommunicable diseases in adult life. This association was first described for coronary heart disease but rapidly extended to include type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and metabolic and endocrine homeostasis. This led to the development of the fetal origins of adult disease paradigm, which resulted in a refocusing of research effort over the next 10 y to consider the lifelong consequences of perinatal influences on chronic diseases. Previously, perinatal influences had largely been seen in terms of teratogenic effects or acute birth injury rather than whether trajectories and responses made during early development had lifelong consequences. Indeed, in developmental biology, it is widely recognized that adaptive plastic responses during early development often have consequences for function in later adulthood. Although the relative importance of this newly recognized set of phenomena to the burden of human disease has been controversial, the research precipitated by those early observations has confirmed their robustness and started to provide a mechanistic basis to this biology. Two world congresses have been held to review progress in this research. Both have been characterized by a unique multidisciplinary attendance ranging from molecular, experimental, and developmental biologists to epidemiologists and health economists.....