Natural selection in the womb can explain health problems in adulthood

Conditions encountered in the womb can have life-long impact on health. Scientists previously assumed this is because embryos respond to adverse conditions by programming their gene expression. Now scientists report a radically different alternative. Rather than being programmed by the environment, random differences in gene expression may provide some embryos with a survival advantage. The researchers found that a specific part of the DNA methylation pattern was missing among famine-exposed individuals.

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