There overwhelming evidence to suggest that much of our predisposition to adult illness is determined by the time of birth (Newnham, Moss, Nitsos, Sloboda & Challis, 2002). It is suggested that the diseases of civilisation we are exposed to result from our interactions between our genes, our intrauterine environment and postnatal lifestyle (Newnham, Moss, Nitsos, Sloboda & Challis, 2002). For example, it is reported that extensive human epidemiologic data have indicated that prenatal and early postnatal nutrition influence adult susceptibility to diet related chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer (Waterland & Jirtle, 2004). Moreover, recent findings have shown that early life exposure to infection is also an important determinant of later life morbidity and mortality (Mazumder, Almond, Park, Crimmins & Finch, 2010).
Mazumder, B., Almond, D., Park, K., Crimmins, E.M. & Finch, C.E., 2010. Lingering prenatal effects of the 1918 influenza pandemic on cardiovascular disease. Journal of Developmental Origins in Health Disease 1, 26–34.
Newnham, J.P., Moss, T.J., Nitsos, I., Sloboda, D.M. & Challis, J.R. 2002. Nutrition and the early origins of adult disease. Asian Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 3, 537-542.
Waterland, R.A. & Jirtle, R.L. 2004. Early nutrition, epigenetic changes at transposons and imprinted genes and enhanced susceptibility to adult chronic disease. Nutrition, 20, 63-68.