The developmental programming hypothesis proposes that adverse conditions at periods of development may lead to adulthood disease. Overnutrition during early development can contribute to an increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular and metabolic disease in later life. The aim of the group is that work in this field will readily translate into improved interventional strategies to stem the growing epidemic of obesity and related disorders in future generations. Aside from genetically inherited disease risk, exposure to an imbalance of either nutrients or certain hormones, prior to conception and during critical periods of development can have permanent effects on physiological processes. Pregnancy and lactation are key developmental windows in human development and pregnancies complicated by poor maternal diet, obesity, or gestational diabetes for example, are associated not only with poor pregnancy outcome, but with an increase in risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes in the infant both in childhood and as an adult.
Animal models lend increasing support to the suggestion that obesity may have origins in early life and have proved invaluable. The group has developed a number of clinically relevant rodent models of obesity in pregnancy in which they have characterised several aspects of human metabolic syndrome in the resultant offspring. These robust experimental models unequivocally demonstrate that diet in pregnancy can alter the long-term characteristics of the offspring and provide insight into the mechanisms involved in human pregnancy.
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CONTACTS FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Professor Lucilla Poston, Dr Paul Taylor, Dr Jane Howard, Prof Clive Coen
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