A new ‘developmental’ model for the origins of coronary heart disease and the related disorders of type 2 diabetes, hypertension and stroke is emerging. The finding that people who develop these disorders have altered growth in utero, during infancy and childhood provides a new starting point for research. The immediate prospect for prevention is through protecting infant growth and preventing accelerated weight gain in children made vulnerable to later disease by small size at birth and during infancy. Ultimately we need to optimize maternal diet and composition before and during pregnancy. Despite current levels of nutrition in Western countries the nutrition of many fetuses and infants remains suboptimal because the nutrients available are unbalanced or because their delivery is constrained by the long and vulnerable fetal supply line.
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