Neurobehavioral determinants of nutritional security in fetal growth–restricted individuals


  • André Krumel Portella,

    1. Hospital da Criança Santo Antônio, Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
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  • Patrícia Pelufo Silveira

    Corresponding author
    1. Departamento de Pediatria, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
    • Address for correspondence: Patrícia Pelufo Silveira, M.D., Ph.D., Ramiro Barcelos, 2350, Largo Eduardo Zaccaro Faraco, Porto Alegre, RS, 90035-903, Brazil.

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Fetal growth restriction results from a failure to achieve a higher growth potential and has been associated with many maternal conditions, such as chronic diseases (infections, hypertension, and some cases of diabetes and obesity), exposures (tobacco smoke, drugs), and malnutrition. This early adversity induces a series of adaptive physiological responses aimed at improving survival, but imposing increased risk for developing chronic nontransmittable diseases (obesity, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease) in the long term. Recently, mounting evidence has shown that fetal growth impairment is related to altered feeding behavior and preferences through the life course. When living in countries undergoing nutritional transition, in which individuals experience the coexistence of underweight and overweight problems (the “double burden of malnutrition”), fetal growth–restricted children can be simultaneously growth restricted and overweight—a double burden of malnutrition at the individual level. Considering food preferences as an important aspect of nutrition security, we will summarize the putative neurobiological mechanisms at the core of the relationship between fetal growth and nutrition security over the life course and the evidence linking early life adversity to later food preferences.