The critical role of postnatal environment in programming deficits and disease
Our research has characterised that growth-restricted pups have organ deficits and gender-specific adult cardiovascular, renal, metabolic, bone and behavioural dysfunction. We have identified important gender differences in the programming of disease as is observed in human populations. Cross-fostering allowed us to manipulate nutrition for a rat after birth by altering the quality and quantity of nutrition they consume after birth. Our innovative cross-fostering studies have proved, for the first time, that when these growth-restricted pups (compromised in utero environment) are cross-fostered on to Control mothers (normal nutritional environment) they restored structural deficits and regained normal function. Results have proved pivotal to changing programming research paradigms to now include the postnatal lactational environment.
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