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Journal of Pregnancy
Volume 2013, Article ID 368461, 13 pages
Review Article

Current Thoughts on Maternal Nutrition and Fetal Programming of the Metabolic Syndrome

1Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
2Department of Pathology, Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine, Buies Creek, NC 27506, USA
3Department of Biomedical Sciences, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, 2265 Kraft Drive, Blacksburg, VA 24060, USA

Received 13 October 2012; Accepted 3 January 2013

Academic Editor: Riitta Luoto

Copyright © 2013 Bonnie Brenseke et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Although the metabolic syndrome has been defined in various ways, the ultimate importance of recognizing this combination of disorders is that it helps identify individuals at high risk for both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Evidence from observational and experimental studies links adverse exposures in early life, particularly relating to nutrition, to chronic disease susceptibility in adulthood. Such studies provide the foundation and framework for the relatively new field of developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD). Although great strides have been made in identifying the putative concepts and mechanisms relating specific exposures in early life to the risk of developing chronic diseases in adulthood, a complete picture remains obscure. To date, the main focus of the field has been on perinatal undernutrition and specific nutrient deficiencies; however, the current global health crisis of overweight and obesity demands that perinatal overnutrition and specific nutrient excesses be examined. This paper assembles current thoughts on the concepts and mechanisms behind the DOHaD as they relate to maternal nutrition, and highlights specific contributions made by macro- and micronutrients.