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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Influence of early-life nutrition on mortality and reproductive success during a subsequent famine in a preindustrial population
Authors: Hayward, Adam
Rickard, Ian J
Lummaa, Virpi
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Keywords: developmental plasticity
silver spoon
human life-history
Issue Date: 20-Aug-2013
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Citation: Hayward A, Rickard IJ & Lummaa V (2013) Influence of early-life nutrition on mortality and reproductive success during a subsequent famine in a preindustrial population, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110 (34), pp. 13886-13891.
Abstract: Individuals with insufficient nutrition during development often experience poorer later-life health and evolutionary fitness. The Predictive Adaptive Response (PAR) hypothesis proposes that poor early-life nutrition induces physiological changes that maximize fitness in similar environments in adulthood and that metabolic diseases result when individuals experiencing poor nutrition during development subsequently encounter good nutrition in adulthood. However, although cohort studies have shown that famine exposure in utero reduces health in favorable later-life conditions, no study on humans has demonstrated the predicted fitness benefit under low later-life nutrition, leaving the evolutionary origins of such plasticity unexplored. Taking advantage of a well-documented famine and unique datasets of individual life histories and crop yields from two preindustrial Finnish populations, we provide a test of key predictions of the PAR hypothesis. Known individuals from fifty cohorts were followed from birth until the famine, where we analyzed their survival and reproductive success in relation to the crop yields around birth. We were also able to test whether the long-term effects of early-life nutrition differed between individuals of varying socioeconomic status. We found that, contrary to predictions of the PAR hypothesis, individuals experiencing low early-life crop yields showed lower survival and fertility during the famine than individuals experiencing high early-life crop yields. These effects were more pronounced among young individuals and those of low socioeconomic status. Our results do not support the hypothesis that PARs should have been favored by natural selection and suggest that alternative models may need to be invoked to explain the epidemiology of metabolic diseases.
Type: Journal Article
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Rights: This article is open-access. Open access publishing allows free access to and distribution of published articles where the author retains copyright of their work by employing a Creative Commons attribution licence. Proper attribution of authorship and correct citation details should be given.
Affiliation: Biological and Environmental Sciences
University of Sheffield
University of Sheffield

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