Korean J Obstet Gynecol.  2010 Jun;53(6):475-488. 10.5468/kjog.2010.53.6.475.

Fetal origins of adult disease

  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. kychoi@hosp.sch.ac.kr


Human epidemiological and animal studies show that many chronic adult disease have their antecedents in compromised fetal and early postnatal development. Developmental programming is defined as the response by the developing mammalian organism to a specific challenge during a critical time window that alters the trajectory of development with resulting persistent effects on phenotype. Each individual's phenotype is influenced by the developmental environment as much as their genes. Also, the term 'fetal origins of adult disease' was coined on the basis of the inverse association between low birth weight and blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes, coronary heart disease, and stroke seen in numerous epidemiological studies. However, it seems unlikely that birth weight is involved in causal pathways underlying theses observations, and if it were then the significance to public health of these findings is very limited because of our inability to modify birth weight to a relevant extent in humans. There has been a major focus on maternal nutrition. Important targets for future research include distinction between the effects of different pregnancy conditions, such as maternal malnutrition, preeclampsia, and maternal infection, which may have dissimilar late-life consequences. This will be a crucial step when the associations that are currently emerging will be translated into disease prevention.


Fetal development; Adult disease; Intrauterine environment; Birth weight; Maternal nutrition
Full Text Links
  • KJOG
export Copy
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
Similar articles
Copyright © 2021 by Korean Association of Medical Journal Editors. All rights reserved.     E-mail: koreamed@kamje.or.kr