Survival effects of prenatal famine exposure.Am J Clin Nutr 2012; 95(1):179-83AJ
Adverse intrauterine conditions are known to be associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases in adult life. Previously, we showed that prenatal famine exposure increased the incidence of cardiovascular and metabolic disease in adulthood.
We examined the association between prenatal famine exposure and adult mortality.
We studied adult mortality among 1991 term singletons from the Dutch Famine Birth Cohort. We compared overall and cause-specific adult mortality among people exposed to famine in late, mid, and early gestation with those unexposed to famine in utero by using Cox proportional hazard models.
A total of 206 persons (10%) had died by the end of follow-up. Compared with unexposed women, women exposed to famine in early gestation had a significantly higher risk of overall adult mortality (HR: 1.9; 95% CI: 1.1, 3.4), cardiovascular mortality (HR: 4.6; 95% CI: 1.2, 17.7), cancer mortality (HR: 2.3; 95% CI: 1.1, 4.7), and breast cancer mortality (HR: 8.3; 95% CI: 1.1, 63.0). In men exposed to famine in early gestation, these associations were as follows compared with unexposed men: overall adult mortality (HR: 0.4; 95% CI: 0.2, 1.1), cardiovascular mortality (HR: 0.9; 95% CI: 0.3, 3.1), and cancer mortality (HR: 0.3; 95% CI: 0.0, 1.9).
Women exposed to famine in early gestation had a higher overall adult, cardiovascular, cancer, and breast cancer mortality risk than did women not exposed to famine. No such effects were observed in men exposed to famine in early gestation.