RESEARCH PAPER
Application of the hypothesis of Developmental Origin of Health and Diseases (DOHaD) in epidemiological studies of women at reproductive age and pregnant women in Poland
 
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Department of Health Promotion, Food and Nutrition, Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland
 
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2011;18(2):355–364
 
KEYWORDS
ABSTRACT
Epidemiological population studies indicate that the nutrition of women at reproductive age and during pregnancy exerts an effect not only on the term of delivery, development of the foetus and birth weight, but also on the susceptibility of off spring to civilization diseases in adulthood, according to the hypothesis of Developmental Origin of Heath and Diseases (DOHaD). The author analyses the results of epidemiological studies conducted in 2011 in a randomly selected representative population of 6,000 Polish adolescents aged 14-24 (of the total of adolescents, a population of females was selected for analysis), and the results of foetal period health monitoring of mother and child (PRAMS) which has been conducted in Poland since 2009 in the population of mothers and their newborn babies staying after delivery in all hospitals in Poland. Analysis of these two population studies indicates that a high percentage of Polish women at reproductive age are dieting. At the same time, confirmation of the fact of becoming pregnant occurs between weeks 5-8 after conception. This shows that until that time, the foetuses of women on the Apple weight loss diet develop conditions of nutritional deficits which, according to the DOHaD hypothesis, may result in epigenetic changes which increase the susceptibility of off spring in adulthood to civilization diseases: cardiovascular disorders, type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome. This hypothesis is confirmed by the high percentages of newborns in Poland born with low birth weight or prematurely born, as well as the fact that the percentage of anemia in pregnant Polish women is twice as high as in other developed countries. Simultaneously, a large number of babies are born with excessive birth weight (macrosomia). The author considers that in the countries of East-Central Europe the phenomenon observed is characteristic at present of the developing countries of the Third World, called the ‘double burden of malnutrition’. This situation creates risk of the occurrence of an epidemics of civilization diseases in our part of Europe of a greater intensity than in other developed countries. The author postulates that the educational actions in the area of health promotion in the control of overweight and obesity should be differentiated according to gender and age. The activities to-date in the field of overweight and obesity control in Poland has led to an increase in the number of girls and young women suffering from nutritional disorders as a result of too drastic methods of losing weight. According to the DOHaD hypothesis applied, this may have tragic results for their off spring and for future generations.
 
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