Current Epidemiology Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 293–302 | Cite as

Developmental Origins of Disease: Emerging Prenatal Risk Factors and Future Disease Risk

  • Izzuddin M. Aris
  • Abby F. Fleisch
  • Emily OkenEmail author
Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiology (R Platt, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Reproductive and Perinatal Epidemiology


Purpose of Review

Many of the diseases and dysfunctions described in the paradigm of the developmental origins of health and disease have been studied in relation to prenatal nutrition or environmental toxicant exposures. Here, we selectively review the current research on four exposures—two nutritional and two environmental—that have recently emerged as prenatal risk factors for long-term health outcomes.

Recent Findings

Recent studies have provided strong evidence that prenatal exposure to (1) excessive intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, (2) unhealthy dietary patterns, (3) perfluoroalkyl substances, and (4) fine particulate matter may increase risk of adverse health outcomes, such as obesity, cardiometabolic dysfunction, and allergy/asthma.


Emerging prenatal nutritional factors and environmental toxicants influence offspring long-term health. More work is needed to identify the role of paternal exposures and maternal exposures during the preconception period and to further elucidate causality through intervention studies. The ubiquity of these emerging nutritional and environmental exposures makes this area of inquiry of considerable public health importance.


Sugar-sweetened beverages Dietary patterns Perfluoroalkyl substances Fine particulate matter pollution Prenatal risk factors Developmental origins of disease 


Funding Information

Izzuddin M Aris is supported by the National University of Singapore Overseas Postdoctoral Fellowship (NUS OPF/2017). Abby Fleisch is supported by the National Institutes of Health (K23 ES024803). Emily Oken is supported by the National Institutes of Health (UG3OD023286, P30 DK092924, R01AI102960, R01 HD034568).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Izzuddin M Aris and Abby F. Fleisch declare no conflicts of interest; Emily Oken reports grants from US National Institutes of Health, during the conduct of the study.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Izzuddin M. Aris
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Abby F. Fleisch
    • 4
    • 5
  • Emily Oken
    • 1
    • 6
    Email author
  1. 1.Division of Chronic Disease Research Across the Lifecourse, Department of Population MedicineHarvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care InstituteBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yong Loo Lin School of MedicineNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.Singapore Institute for Clinical SciencesAgency for Science, Technology and ResearchSingaporeSingapore
  4. 4.Pediatric Endocrinology and DiabetesMaine Medical CenterPortlandUSA
  5. 5.Center for Outcomes Research and EvaluationMaine Medical Center Research InstitutePortlandUSA
  6. 6.Department of NutritionHarvard T.H. Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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