Nutrition and Developmental Biology—Implications for Public Health Academic Article uri icon


  • Recent advances in understanding genome-nutrient and nutrient-network interactions, and the modifying effects of genetic variation on their function, have strengthened interests in acute and long-lasting diet/ nutrition influences on health. Relationships between early and mid-gestational and perinatal conditions (including those related to maternal nutrition) and outcomes, and later-onset chronic diseases have received particular attention. Controlled animal experiments support views that responses with long-lasting effects to nutritional milieus are enabled by epigenetic and other metabolic adjustments during critical windows. Thus, underlying mechanisms are beginning to be understood. For example, chromatin remodeling during development can alter gene expression levels, fix or determine future set points critical to intra- and inter-organ communication networks, alter morphogenesis, initiate remodeling events, etc., all with lifelong consequences. These also may affect DNA mutation rates and thereby influence adult cancer and other risks. There is increasing evidence that nutrient-based strategies will be of value to the prevention or delay of onset of chronic diseases and that these strategies may require initiation during embryonic or fetal stages of development to achieve maximal benefit.

author list (cited authors)

  • Stover, P. J., & Garza, C.

citation count

  • 13

publication date

  • May 2006