Optimal fetal growth is important for a healthy pregnancy outcome and also for lifelong health. Fetal growth is largely regulated by fetal nutrition, and mediated via the maternal and fetal glucose/insulin/insulin-like growth factor axes. Fetal nutrition may reflect maternal nutrition, but abnormalities of placental function can also affect fetal growth, as the placenta plays a key intermediary role in nutritional signalling between mother and fetus. Fetal nutrition also impacts on the development of key fetal endocrine systems such as the glucose-insulin and insulin-like growth factor axes. This is likely to contribute to the link between both fetal growth restriction and fetal overgrowth, and increased risks of obesity and impaired glucose tolerance in later life. This review focuses on the associations between maternal and fetal nutrition, fetal growth and later disease risk, with particular emphasis on the role of insulin-like growth factors and the importance of the periconceptional period.
- Growth factors
- Prenatal nutrition