Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
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Observing fetal development in utero is vital to further the understanding of later-life diseases. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offers a tool for obtaining a wealth of information about fetal growth, development, and programming not previously available using other methods. This review provides an overview of MRI techniques used to investigate the metabolic and cardiovascular consequences of the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) hypothesis. These methods add to the understanding of the developing fetus by examining fetal growth and organ development, adipose tissue and body composition, fetal oximetry, placental microstructure, diffusion, perfusion, flow, and metabolism. MRI assessment of fetal growth, organ development, metabolism, and the amount of fetal adipose tissue could give early indicators of abnormal fetal development. Noninvasive fetal oximetry can accurately measure placental and fetal oxygenation, which improves current knowledge on placental function. Additionally, measuring deficiencies in the placenta's transport of nutrients and oxygen is critical for optimizing treatment. Overall, the detailed structural and functional information provided by MRI is valuable in guiding future investigations of DOHaD.