The worldwide epidemic of non-communicable diseases (NCD), including obesity, is a burden to which poor lifestyles contribute significantly. Events in early life may enhance susceptibility to NCD, with transmission into succeeding generations. This may also explain, in part, why interventions in adulthood are less effective to reduce NCD risk. New insights reveal that the early embryo, in particular, is extremely sensitive to signals from gametes, trophoblastic tissue and periconception maternal lifestyles. Embryonic size and growth as determinants of embryonic health seem to impact future health. A relatively small embryo for gestational age is associated with pregnancy complications, as well as with the risk of early features of NCD in childhood. Although personal lifestyles are modifiable, they are extremely difficult to change. Therefore, adopting a life course approach from the periconception period onwards and integrated into patient care with short-term reproductive health benefits may have important implications for future prevention of NCD. The current reproductive population is used to Internet and social media. Therefore, they can be reached via mobile phone (mHealth) platforms that provide personalised lifestyle (pre)pregnancy programs. This will offer opportunities and possibly great benefits for the health of current and succeeding generations.

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Reproduction, Fertility and Development
Department of Gynaecology & Obstetrics

Steegers-Theunissen, R., & Steegers, E. (2015). Embryonic health: New insights, mHealth and personalised patient care. Reproduction, Fertility and Development (Vol. 27, pp. 712–715). doi:10.1071/RD14386