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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2018 Feb 1;314(2):R231-R241. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00248.2017. Epub 2017 Dec 4.

Maternal circadian rhythms and the programming of adult health and disease.

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Robinson Research Institute, Adelaide Medical School, University of Adelaide , Adelaide, South Australia , Australia.


The in utero environment is inherently rhythmic, with the fetus subjected to circadian changes in temperature, substrates, and various maternal hormones. Meanwhile, the fetus is developing an endogenous circadian timing system, preparing for life in an external environment where light, food availability, and other environmental factors change predictably and repeatedly every 24 h. In humans, there are many situations that can disrupt circadian rhythms, including shift work, international travel, insomnias, and circadian rhythm disorders (e.g., advanced/delayed sleep phase disorder), with a growing consensus that this chronodisruption can have deleterious consequences for an individual's health and well-being. However, the impact of chronodisruption during pregnancy on the health of both the mother and fetus is not well understood. In this review, we outline circadian timing system ontogeny in mammals and examine emerging research from animal models demonstrating long-term negative implications for progeny health following maternal chronodisruption during pregnancy.


circadian rhythm; metabolism; pregnancy; programming


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