The field of developmental programming has rapidly expanded in the two decades since David Barker described a relationship between poor in utero growth and increased vulnerability for chronic disease in adulthood. We now know that sub-optimal conditions (eg under- or overnutrition, stress) during critical windows in the periconceptional, gestational, and perinatal periods interact with postnatal factors (including diet) to amplify the risk for developing chronic diseases in adulthood;these include obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The 7th World Congress on Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) will be held in Portland, OR, USA on September 18-21, 2011. This will be the first time this Congress has been held in the US and represents a unique opportunity for US scientists, clinicians and policy makers to participate in discussions with key personnel in this worldwide field. Since the inception of the International DOHaD Society in 2003, there has been an underrepresentation of US members despite several leading experts in the field being based in the US;we thus anticipate increased US participation at the 7th World Congress on DOHaD. Deliberate inclusion of sessions geared towards changing clinical practice and public health policies is a novel feature of the 7th World Congress and could have major impacts on improving adult health worldwide, in addition to substantial reductions in the health care costs associated with chronic disease. This biennial multidisciplinary World Congress is being organized with several goals in mind: (a) to disseminate the results from the most recent mechanistic and interventional studies, (b) to bring together, and stimulate discussion between experts in this broad field, (c) to facilitate interactions between basic scientists, clinicians, and health policy makers regarding best practice in preventing or attenuating the long-term negative effects of a sub-optimal intrauterine environment. This Congress will also provide a key opportunity to further understanding in the field of developmental programming and identify scientific gaps in knowledge. A longstanding emphasis of the DOHaD Society has been to promote attendance of junior investigators, minorities, and delegates from developing nations and this continues for the 7th World Congress;merit-based travel grants will be available to these groups. Mentoring luncheons, a social mixer and a Junior Investigator Award session have been organized to foster interactions amongst early career researchers and initiate collaborations and contacts that are so critical for long term career success in research. The Congress program comprises over 50 invited speakers (plenary and parallel sessions), and oral and poster presentations of peer-reviewed abstract submissions. Abstracts will be published in the Journal of DOHaD, available during and after the congress. The ability to bring together researchers, health care workers and policy makers promotes communication between these often disparate groups and will increase the likelihood of solving many of the important issues associated with developmental programming and health.
Both undernutrition and overnutrition/obesity in pregnant mothers - dual forms of malnutrition - negatively impact fetal development with long-term effects to increase vulnerability for common chronic diseases: hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. The escalating worldwide obesity epidemic, leading to obesity in girls and mothers-to-be, sets up a vicious cycle with trans-generational transmission of obesity and metabolic dysfunction. This multi-disciplinary congress will facilitate interactions and discussions between scientists, clinicians and public health policy makers to initiate key changes in care for women who are pregnant or of child bearing age, with a goal of improve the long-term health of their offspring.