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Novel insights, challenges and practical implications of DOHaD-omics research

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The basic tenet of developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) research is that perinatal health behaviours of the mother and father, as well as those of the child in early life, can have a significant impact on the future health of the child and that of subsequent generations. Studies exploring DOHaD investigate how early life exposures increase susceptibility to later adverse health outcomes from medical and public health perspectives. This altered health risk appears to occur through reprogramming of physiological systems away from their normal developmental trajectories, and highlights the plasticity of organ systems in the perinatal periods.1 Recent research in this field has focused on the potential for these physiological changes to exert trans-generational effects, without the requirement for further exposures in subsequent generations.2 This appears to occur through genetic and environmental interactions, resulting in phenotypic changes that persist across generations.

The emergence of “-omics” biotechnologies (eg, genomics, proteomics and metabolomics) has revolutionised physiological research in the DOHaD field. From the genome to the epigenome, microbiome and metabolome, research investigating pathways leading to disease has never before had the technology to investigate physiology in such a high throughput, data-rich capacity. We summarise this emerging…