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Neonatal Programming and Epidemiology

Epidemiological observations have led to a new paradigm stating that the risk of developing common diseases in adulthood is influenced not only by genetic and adult life-style factors but also by environmental factors acting early in life.

Project leader:

Mireille Vanpée


This concept has important biological, medical and socioeconomic implications. In the search for mechanisms, studies in young humans may help. Pediatric priorities are early detection of abnormalities and identification of modifiable factors in the causal chain.

Our research involves a series of clinical studies with an interest in:

  • immune responses in pregnant women in relation to vascular function in the offspring
  • maternal levels of folic acid and homocysteine and endothelial function in newborn infants
  • blood pressure and heart rate in children and young adults with different perinatal exposures
  • renal function and kidney size in relation to poor fetal growth or preterm birth
  • glucose tolerance and insulin levels in relation to fetal growth retardation and preterm birth
  • cardiovascular function in monozygous twins exposed to chronic twin-to-twin-transfusion syndrome while in utero
  • aortic dimensions and structure in adolescents with birth weights <1500 g< /li>
  • vascular, metabolic and renal functions after salt and lipid intake in relation to preterm birth
  • epidemiologic research using the medical birth register and the Swedish twin registry
  • outcomes for moderately preterm infants


The results of our studies may have implications for the lifestyle and health risks in children and adults born too small and may open an opportunity for early preventive strategies and therapeutic interventions, not only applicable in Sweden.

Group members

Helena Martin, MD, PhD
Anna Kistner, MD, PhD
Stefan Johansson, PhD
Anna-Karin Edstedt Bonamy, MD, PhD
Cecilia Halvorsen, MD
Maria Altman, MD
Alexander Rakow, PhD student
Emma Elsmén, MD
Kristina Elvström, MD
Jessica Schiött, Research nurse


  • Prof Hugo Lagercrantz (neonatology)
  • Mikael Norman, MD, PhD, Professor
  • Prof Sven Cnattingius (epidemiology and biostatistics)
  • Prof Kerstin Brismar (endocrinology)
  • Prof Stefan Jakobsson (nephrology)
  • Prof Johan Frostegårdh (immunology)
  • Prof Jon Lundberg (physiology)
  • Prof Claes Frostell (anestesiology)
  • Prof em Birger Winbladh (paediatrics)
  • Prof Gunnar Sedin (neonatology)
  • prof Bo Lindblad (international health)
  • ass prof Gianni Celsi (paediatric nephrology)
  • ass prof Stefan Agewall (cardiology)
  • ass prof Ellika Andolf (obstetrics)
  • ass prof Stellan Håkansson (paediatrics)
  • Ass prof Lena Hellström-Westas(paediatrics)

Research funding

Our research has been generously supported by Swedish Research Council, Swedish Heart Lung Foundation, Swedish Society of Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Sällskapet Barnavård at Karolinska Hospital, the First Mayflower Annual Campaign, General Maternity Hospital Foundation, the Samaritan Foundation, Stiftelsen Frimurare Barnhuset.