Programming is triggered through events during critical developmental phases that alter offspring health outcomes. High fat programming is defined as the maintenance on a high fat diet during fetal and/or early postnatal life that induces metabolic and physiological alterations that compromise health. The maternal nutritional status, including the dietary fatty acid composition, during gestation and/or lactation, are key determinants of fetal and postnatal development. A maternal high fat diet and obesity during gestation compromises the maternal metabolic state and, through high fat programming, presents an unfavorable intrauterine milieu for fetal growth and development thereby conferring adverse cardiac outcomes to offspring. Stressors on the heart, such as a maternal high fat diet and obesity, alter the expression of cardiac-specific factors that alter cardiac structure and function. The proper nutritional balance, including the fatty acid balance, particularly during developmental windows, are critical for maintaining cardiac structure, preserving cardiac function and enhancing the cardiac response to metabolic challenges.
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