Impact of maternal nutrition on fetal growth and development.
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In humans and in livestock, birth weight is a significant determinant of neonatal survival and lifelong health. Not only is low birth weight associated with increased perinatal morbidity and mortality, it is also associated with an increased incidence of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases in adulthood. One of the primary causes of low birth weight is an insufficient delivery of nutrients to sustain the genetic growth potential of the developing fetus. The placenta mediates the transfer of nutrients, gases, and wastes between the mother and fetus, and thus the vast majority of cases of IUGR are associated with a placenta of small size and reduced blood flow and nutrient transport capacity.IUGR in humans: IUGR is defined as being below the 10th percentile for weight at a given gestational age. Current estimates indicate that 7-15% of pregnancies result in IUGR with an estimated medical cost of $5.4 billion annually. These costs do not include associated indirect medical costs, emotional pain and suffering, or lost time of unpaid caregivers, meaning the total cost to society is enormous. In addition, IUGR is associated with an increased risk of metabolic disorders, such as obesity and type II diabetes, further increasing health care costs. Despite increased understanding of the fetal origins of adult disease, elucidating the lifelong costs of IUGR has not been undertaken. Maternal undernutrition is often overlooked as a cause of IUGR in industrialized nations, although in developing countries, maternal malnutrition is a significant problem.........