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Citation: Hult M, Tornhammar P, Ueda P, Chima C, Edstedt Bonamy A-K, Ozumba B, et al. (2010) Hypertension, Diabetes and Overweight: Looming Legacies of the Biafran Famine. PLoS ONE 5(10): e13582. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013582

Editor: J. Jaime Miranda, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Peru

Copyright: © 2010 Hult et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funding: Funding was received from the Karolinska Institute, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and Carl-Eriks Levins Foundation. Funding was unrestricted and the funders had no role in the study design, data collection, analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Introduction

Sub-Saharan African countries are in a process of a rapid epidemiological transition, away from infectious diseases, towards non-communicable diseases as leading causes of death . Such transition in disease pattern is generally attributed to rural-to-urban shifts in adult lifestyle and typically involves changes in diet, cigarette smoking and lack of exercise . There is a growing body of evidence however, suggesting that increased susceptibility to chronic diseases in adulthood has a developmental basis, originating in fetal life. The rapid development and shaping of the phenotype that occurs in utero is highly sensitive to environmental - in particular, nutritional – perturbations, leading to reduced functional capacity, altered metabolism and hormone production. This is considered an important underlying mechanism, explaining why adults born small – a proxy for fetal starvation - are at increased risks for cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

Source: journals.plos.org
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