The researchers fed female mice on a low-protein diet during the ovulatory cycle, then allowed the mice to mate. The resulting pups suffered from several different afflictions.
"They were hypertensive, had poorly functioning blood vessels that did not relax properly when treated with reagents that should dilate them, had kidneys of abnormal structure and size, and exhibited reduced exploratory activity," Watkins wrote. "These disturbing effects cannot necessarily be extrapolated to the human condition, but do illustrate the need to investigate whether such a link might exist in women."
Previous studies had shown that smaller infants are more likely to get heart disease, stroke, hypertension, and diabetes; other research had drawn links between adult maladies and poor nutrition around the time of fertilization and egg implantation.