Latent Effects of Prenatal Malnutrition on Adult Health

The Example of Schizophrenia


Address for correspondence: Ezra Susser, Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 722 West 168th Street, Room 1508, New York, NY 10032. Voice: +1-212-342-2133; fax: +1-212-342-2286.


It is well established that malnutrition in children has adverse effects on development. Only recently, however, has it become possible to examine the full scope of adverse effects of malnutrition across the life course, which would include latent effects of fetal or childhood malnutrition on health and disease in adult life. We review here a series of studies which have linked early prenatal famine to the risk of schizophrenia in the offspring. Thus we aim to draw attention to the need to look beyond the concurrent effects of malnutrition and consider also the effects that may become apparent decades later.