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February 10, 1993

Fetal and Infant Origins of Adult Disease

Author Affiliations

San Diego (Calif) State University


edited by D. J. P. Barker, papers written by the Medical Research Council Environmental Epidemiology Unit, University of Southampton, 343 pp, £30, UK £24.95, ISBN 0-7279-0743-3, London, England, British Medical Journal, 1992.

JAMA. 1993;269(6):802-803. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03500060102043

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This book consists of articles written by 39 authors under the aegis of the British Medical Research Council and previously published in various British journals. The general theme of the 31 chapters is that factors affecting the fetus and the young child have long-lasting effects and are important causes of later diseases, such as ischemic heart disease, stroke, and chronic bronchitis.

The Barker group studied the observation that areas in Britain which now have high rates of death from cardiovascular diseases (ischemic heart disease and stroke) used to have high infant death rates. Factors that were unfavorable for health in infancy might therefore also cause later disease in adult life. A detailed geographic comparison of infant mortality in the earlier part of this century with more recent adult mortality suggested that particular periods in pregnancy and infancy might have specific importance for the later development of ischemic heart disease, stroke,