Developmental problems (DP) include a variety of quite prevalent conditions, associated
with psychomotor functions, and affect young children: vision and hearing disorders,
communication problems (language and learning disorders, autism), cerebral palsy,
mental retardation and behavioural disorders. They impose enormous personal, social and
economic costs as a result of their early onset and lifetime disability. Developing countries
are expected to have a higher prevalence of DP than developed countries.
Non-communicable chronic diseases are today the main cause of morbidity and
mortality in adults in several countries of the world. Cardiovascular diseases are
responsible for 40% of all deaths in the United States; every year, 725,000 Americans
die of cardiac diseases, which are the main cause of death in that country, with coronary
heart disease being the most frequent.
David Barker set off an avalanche in the 1980s with his observations that low birth
weight is a risk factor for later cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.
In developing countries, malnutrition of the mother is the predominant cause for
low birth weight or foetal growth restriction. In the industrialised countries, smoking
is the highest attributable risk factor for intrauterine growth restriction.