Developmental Origins of Disease: Emerging Prenatal Risk Factors and Future Disease Risk.

Document Type


Publication Date



Pediatrics, Endocrinology & Diabetes, Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Maine Medical Center Research Institute

Journal Title

Curr Epidemiol Rep

MeSH Headings

Pregnancy, Female, Risk Factors, Genes, Developmental, Disease Susceptibility


Purpose of review: Many of the diseases and dysfunctions described in the paradigm of the developmental origins of health and disease have been studied in relation to prenatal nutrition or environmental toxicant exposures. Here, we selectively review the current research on four exposures-two nutritional and two environmental-that have recently emerged as prenatal risk factors for long-term health outcomes.

Recent findings: Recent studies have provided strong evidence that prenatal exposure to (1) excessive intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, (2) unhealthy dietary patterns, (3) perfluoroalkyl substances, and (4) fine particulate matter, may increase risk of adverse health outcomes, such as obesity, cardiometabolic dysfunction, and allergy/asthma.

Summary: Emerging prenatal nutritional factors and environmental toxicants influence offspring long-term health. More work is needed to identify the role of paternal exposures and maternal exposures during the preconception period and to further elucidate causality through intervention studies. The ubiquity of these emerging nutritional and environmental exposures makes this area of inquiry of considerable public health importance.



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