Metabolic imprinting by prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal overnutrition: A review

Jennifer Shine Dyer, Charles R. Rosenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Epidemiological studies have suggested that metabolic programming is one of the critical factors contributing to the etiology of obesity as well as concurrent increase in related chronic diseases (e.g., type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease). Metabolic programming is the phenomenon whereby a nutritional stress/stimulus applied during critical periods of early development permanently alters an organism's physiology and metabolism, the consequences of which are often observed much later in life. The idea of metabolic programming originated from the fetal origins hypothesis proposed by Barker in which he suggested that disproportionate size at birth of the newborn due to an adverse intrauterine environment correlated well with an increased risk of adult-onset ill health outcomes (type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease). The fetal origins hypothesis, proposed by Barker, suggests that adequate nutrition during fetal development is critical. Overnutrition is a form of malnutrition that has increased in the United States over the past several decades in which nutrients are oversupplied relative to the amounts required for normal growth, development, and metabolism. Evidence for the effects of maternal obesity and overnutrition on metabolic programming is reviewed during critical prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-276
Number of pages11
JournalSeminars in reproductive medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 25 2011


  • LGA
  • Overnutrition
  • cardiovascular disease
  • childhood obesity
  • chronic disease development
  • fetal origins hypothesis
  • gestational diabetes
  • macrosomia
  • metabolic imprinting
  • metabolic programming
  • obesity
  • type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Endocrinology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Physiology (medical)


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