The risk of developing chronic diseases later on in life may have been increased even before you were born after Harvard researchers found that epigenetic disruptions, linked to chronic disease, are already common at birth.
Possibly, these aberrations result from stressors in the intrauterine environment (e.g. maternal smoking, maternal diet, or high levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals).
This finding supports the belief that seeds of disease are sown before birth, increasing the importance of optimal prenatal care.
"This study may help us understand whether epigenetic mechanisms contribute to chronic disease susceptibility already prior to birth," Karin Michels, Sc.D., Ph.D., study author from Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, said.
"We are currently exploring which stressors during prenatal life may contribute to these epigenetic disruptions," the researcher said.
The research is published in The FASEB Journal.