Submitted to: Journal of Nutrition
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/1/2007
Publication Date: 4/1/2007
Citation: Lebenthal, E., Bier, D.M. 2007. Novel concepts in the developmental origins of adult health and disease. Journal of Nutrition. 137(4):1073-1075.
Technical Abstract: The seminal epidemiological observations of David Barker demonstrated that birth weight across the normal range is inversely proportional to the risk for hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes in adulthood. Increasing evidence suggests that either low birth weight or accelerated postnatal weight gain or a combination of the two, may predispose the above diseases. As a consequence of these observations, David Barker developed a theory, the now eponymic "Barker hypothesis," proposing that adverse events in utero induce compensatory responses in the fetus that reflect "developmental plasticity" during this critical period and persist permanently, thus defining an altered phenotype not only at birth but also for a lifetime. In other words, altered developmental programming limits the range of postnatal adaptability, creating disease vulnerability. Nonetheless, the "predictive adaptive response" hypothesis proposes that the degree of mismatch between the pre- and postnatal environments is an important determinant of subsequent disease. We believe that continued investigation of the mechanisms underlying current assumptions themselves underlying theoretical relationships of developmental origins of adult disease will immensely advance our knowledge of human ontogeny and its impact on adult health.