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February 16, 2000

Does Prenatal Famine Cause Later Antisocial Behaviors?

Author Affiliations

Phil B.FontanarosaMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorStephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Fishbein FellowIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2000;283(7):887-888. doi:10.1001/jama.283.7.882

To the Editor: The report by Dr Neugebauer and colleagues1 suggests that severe insults to the developing brain in utero may increase the risk of antisocial behaviors. This report is one of several studies suggesting that the amount and quality of intrauterine nutrition may affect adult life (fetal origins hypothesis). Much work in this general area has focused on the association between birth weight (as a proxy for fetal nutrition) and the prevalence of chronic adult conditions.2 From other studies of the long-term effects of dramatic changes in the degree of prenatal nutrition during the Dutch famine of 1944-1945, the timing of the insult rather than the possible effects on birth weight may be the critical exposure of interest.3

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