Evidence for the intra-uterine programming of adiposity in later life.

MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, UK.
Annals of Human Biology (Impact Factor: 1.15). 07/2011; 38(4):410-28. DOI: 10.3109/03014460.2011.592513
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT AIM: Research in animals has shown that altering foetal nutrition by under-nourishing or over-nourishing the mother or rendering her diabetic or foetal exposure to glucocorticoids and toxins can programme obesity in later life. The increased adiposity is mediated by permanent changes in appetite, food choices, physical activity and energy metabolism. In humans, increased adiposity has been shown in people who experienced foetal under-nutrition due to maternal famine or over-nutrition due to maternal diabetes. Lower birth weight (a proxy for foetal under-nutrition) is associated with a reduced adult lean mass and increased intra-abdominal fat. Higher birth-weight caused by maternal diabetes is associated with increased total fat mass and obesity in later life. There is growing evidence that maternal obesity, without diabetes, is also a risk factor for obesity in the child, due to foetal over-nutrition effects. Maternal smoking is associated with an increased risk of obesity in the children, although a causal link has not been proven. Other foetal exposures associated with increased adiposity in animals include glucocorticoids and endocrine disruptors. CONCLUSIONS: Reversing the current obesity epidemic will require greater attention to, and better understanding of, these inter-generational (mother-offspring) factors that programme body composition during early development.

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    BMJ Open 06/2014; 4(6):e005417. · 2.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background. The acceleration of pubertal development is an important medical and social problem, as it may result in increased morbidity and mortality in later life. This systematic review summarizes relevant data about nongenetic factors, which contribute to age at menarche (AAM), and suggests those which may be the most important. Methods. The available literature from 1980 till July 2013 was searched using PubMed and Google Scholar databases. Finally, 154 papers were selected for the analysis. Results. Environmental factors, which may affect AAM, vary in populations of different ethnicity. The prenatal, infancy, and early childhood periods are the most susceptible to these factors. Body weight, high animal protein intake, family stressors (e.g., single parenting), and physical activity seem to influence AAM in most populations. Conclusions. The data about influence of nongenetic factors on AAM are still inconsistent. The factors affecting prenatal and early childhood growth seem to have a larger effect on further sexual maturation. Further studies are needed in order to validate the association between other environmental determinants and AAM in different ethnical groups.
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction In pregnancy physiological mechanisms activated by maternal appetite contribute to adequate energy intake for the mother and for the fetus. The role of maternal appetite-related peptides and their possible association with neonatal energy stores and glucose metabolism have not been investigated as yet. The aim was to investigate, during pregnancy, the association of fasting maternal appetite-related hormones levels [ghrelin (active), GLP1 (active), total PYY and leptin] with neonatal waist, percent total body fat and insulin levels at birth. Methods Forty-two normal and thirty eight overweight women (mean ± SD; age: 26.9 ± 2.5 years; pre-pregnancy BMI 26 ± 2.2 kg/m2) were seen during each of the three trimesters, had blood sampling and a 75 g oral glucose tolerance test. At birth, neonates underwent anthropometry and cord blood sampling for c-peptide, glucose, insulin. Results During all three trimesters maternal weight correlated positively with percent total neonatal body fat while during the second and third trimesters it correlated positively with birth weight. The second trimester maternal active ghrelin levels correlated positively with neonatal waist and were its best positive predictor. The third trimester maternal active ghrelin levels correlated positively with neonatal waist and negatively with percent total neonatal body fat, fetal cord blood insulin levels and were the best negative predictor of the latter. The third trimester maternal leptin levels correlated negatively with neonatal waist. Conclusions During pregnancy circulating maternal active ghrelin, a pro-appetite hormone, is associated with neonatal visceral energy storage (as expressed by neonatal waist). By inhibiting glucose-driven maternal insulin secretion, ghrelin might ensure adequate fasting glucose and nutrient supplies to the fetus while limiting overall fetal adipose tissue deposition.
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