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Early life nutritional programming of health and disease in the Gambia

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-131
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
Issue number2
Published11 Sep 2015

King's Authors


Exposures during the early life (periconceptional, prenatal and early postnatal) period are increasingly recognized as playing an important role in the aetiology of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCD), including coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. The 'Developmental Origins of Health and Disease' (DOHaD) hypothesis states that these disorders originate through unbalanced nutrition early in life and risk is highest when there is a 'mismatch' between the early-and later-life environments. Thus, the DOHaD hypothesis would predict highest risk in countries where an excess of infants are born with low birth weight and where there is a rapid transition to nutritional adequacy or excess in adulthood. Here, I will review data from work conducted in rural Gambia, West Africa. Using demographic data dating back to the 1940s, the follow-up of randomized controlled trials of nutritional supplementation in pregnancy and the 'experiment of nature' that seasonality in this region provides, we have investigated the DOHaD hypothesis in a population with high rates of maternal and infant under-nutrition, a high burden from infectious disease, and an emerging risk of NCDs.

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