Perinatal Programming of Disease Risk: Maternal, Microbial, and Metabolic Influences

Publish Date: 19 April 2017
Author(s): Deborah Sloboda, PhD


Evidence shows that the mother’s gut microbiota educates the fetal immune system during pregnancy. Adverse events occurring during critical developmental windows in utero and during infancy may increase the risk of developing chronic diseases later in life. Dr Sloboda explains that such adversity includes poor maternal or infant nutrition, stress, or exposure to maternal disease.

She presents research findings in animal models of prenatal caloric restriction that have shown associations between fetal growth restriction and offspring obesity, insulin resistance, leptin resistance, and altered appetite. She discusses how gut microbiota associated with maternal obesity can also predict childhood obesity as well as obesity and metabolic diseases later in life. Evidence continues to emerge on the relative impact of the prenatal environment on microbiota composition and later health outcomes.

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Author Bios

A headshot of Deborah Sloboda

Deborah Sloboda, PhD

McMaster University; Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

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