Exposure to harmful environments, particularly during pregnancy and early development, may affect the structure of genetic material and how genes are expressed (epigenetic modification), which may then influence risk of diseases. We will use data from
populationbased studies from Finland (Northern Finland Birth Cohorts), UK and other European countries to identify epigenetic, genetic and physical measurements (phenotypes) which are indicators of cardiorespiratory and metabolic ill-health in later life.
We will specifically examine whether stressful environments (e.g. maternal smoking, diabetes, hypertension) and growth patterns in early life, including in utero, are linked to epigenetic changes in DNA structure. The role of these epigenetic changes in relation to cognition, metabolism and cardiorespiratory function in older populations will then be explored.