Early Developmental Programming of the Ovarian Reserve, Ovarian Function, and Fertility

Francesca Mossa, Siobhàn W. Walsh, Alex C.O. Evans, Fermin Jimenez-Krassel, James J. Ireland

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The environment encountered during fetal life exerts a profound influence on development, physiological function, and risk of disease in adult life in mammals. Poor maternal nutrition, including micronutrient deficiencies, contributes to at least 20% of maternal deaths and it increases the probability of poor pregnancy outcomes such as intrauterine growth restriction, resulting in low birth weight, stunting, wasting, and mortality. Natural and artificial dietary components, as well as environmental chemicals, may interfere with the physiological action of hormones and many of these endocrine-disrupting compounds (EDC) act as steroid receptor agonists and antagonists. This chapter focuses on the impact of prenatal environmental challenges, specifically undernutrition, overnutrition, and EDC (excess testosterone, BPA) on fetal oogonia, follicle/oocyte numbers and oocyte quality, and on the ovarian reserve, ovarian function, and fertility in offspring of farm animals, rodents, and women. Maternal environmental factors that diminish size of the fetal ovarian reserve would be expected to also impair fertility of offspring.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnimal Models and Human Reproduction
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781118881286
ISBN (Print)9781118881606
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2017


  • Endocrine-disrupting compounds
  • Fetal development
  • Human reproduction
  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Maternal undernutrition
  • Offspring fertility
  • Ovarian function
  • Ovarian reserve
  • Prenatal environmental challenges
  • Steroid receptor agonists


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