We study the interaction between mother and child in light of clinical, placental, metabolic, nutritional, neuroendocrine and vascular aspects.
Purpose and strategy
Nutrition and environmental factors during the fetal period can have a major impact on the future health of a newborn child, described as the DOHaD (Developmental Origins of Health and Disease) or Barker/Forsdahl hypothesis. Inadequate nutrition in fetal life can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity and certain forms of cancer. Several international studies conclude that the most effective method for preventing these is optimizing the developmental conditions in fetal life and early childhood. Important factors for the fetal environment and development include placental function, obesity in the mother (BMI > 30 kg/m2), malnutrition, infections, preeclampsia and exposure to toxic substances. In Norway, around 20% of young women and mothers-to-be are overweight, and obesity has overtaken smoking as a risk factor in pregnancy. It does not appear that a high BMI in itself is harmful, but rather the state of inflammation and the extensive metabolic and endocrine changes associated with obesity.
The purpose of our research is to understand how metabolic dysfunction and other adverse developmental conditions affect the fetus so that preventive advice and treatment can be established.