The University of Southampton

Professor Caroline Fall MBChB, DM, FRCP, FRCPCH

Professor of International Paediatric Epidemiology

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Professor Caroline Fall is Professor of International Paediatric Epidemiology within Medicine at the University of Southampton.

As a paediatrician and epidemiologist, my research specialises in the developmental origins of health and disease. I focus on how a mother's diet and nutrition influence the long-term health of her children, and work mainly in developing and transitioning populations, especially India

Caroline Fall studied medicine at the University of Bristol, followed by clinical training in General Medicine, General Practice and Paediatrics. She joined the MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit in 1989, to study the Hertfordshire cohort, and showed that low birthweight and infant weight were associated with an increased risk of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes in adult life. Since 1993, she has been working on the fetal origins of diabetes mainly in Indian populations, building up collaborations in several centres in India.

Caroline Fall works with a team of epidemiologists and statisticians investigating the fetal origins of cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes and the maternal factors influencing fetal growth. Her chief role is to co-ordinate a programme of research involving 5 centres in India. These studies include the follow-up of children and adults whose size at birth was recorded, and more recently, prospective studies on the short and long-term effects on the offspring of maternal nutritional status and glucose/insulin metabolism. She was the moving force and organising secretary for the First World Congress on the Fetal Origins of Adult Disease held in Mumbai, India, February 2001, and a member of the scientific planning committees for the Third and Sixth World Congresses, held in Toronto (November 2005) and Santaigo, Chile (November 2009). She is secretary of the International Society for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD)and Associate Editor of the newly launched Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease.

Her clinical interests are in Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes.

Committee Membership


BSc, Anatomy, Bristol University (1976)
MBChB, Medicine, Bristol University (1979)
MRCP, Medicine, (1983)
DCH, Child Health (1984)
DM, Epidemiology, University of Southampton (1999)
FRCP, Medicine (1999)
FRCPCH, Child Health (2000)

Appointments held

1979-1990 NHS Clinical Posts in Bristol, Bath and Southampton. House Officer, Senior House Officer and Registrar in Internal Medicine, General Practice and Paediatrics

1991-1993 MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit
British Heart Foundation Research Fellow

1993-2006 MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit
Clinical Research Fellow, Senior Lecturer, Reader

1989-present MRC Clinical Scientist
Professor of International Paediatric Epidemiology, MRC Lifecourse Epidemiology Unit
Honorary Consultant in Child Health, Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust






Research interests

Main research areas:

  • Developmental origins of type 2 diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
  • Maternal nutrition and metabolism – effects on fetal growth and later health
  • Childhood growth patterns and later disease

Research objective: Translating the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) concept into interventions to improve human health and prevent disease in developing countries.

Prof Fall joined Professor David Barker’s research group as a British Heart Foundation research fellow in 1989. She studied cardiovascular disease risk factors, glucose/insulin metabolism and LV mass among men and women from the Hertfordshire birth cohort, the first studies linking type 2 diabetes to low birthweight. Subsequent studies of 24-hour growth hormone and cortisol profiles provided evidence that early life effects on later health are mediated by the programming of endocrine axes. In 1991, Prof Fall initiated a programme of DOHaD research in India, which now encompasses work with collaborative groups in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi, Mysore and Vellore. Studies include birth cohort studies, prospective studies of maternal nutrition and metabolism in pregnancy, and intervention trials of nutritional supplementation before and during pregnancy.

Main discoveries:

1. The risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome is increased in association with low birthweight, poor infant weight gain, and rapid weight or BMI gain in childhood and adolescence.
2. The same features of early growth are associated with a more adverse cardiovascular risk profile even in childhood.
3. They are associated with altered IGF-1, GH and cortisol measurements.
4. South Asian babies have a ‘muscle-thin-but-adipose’ phenotype at birth, which persists into childhood and adulthood.
5. Newborn size and body composition are related to maternal micronutrient status in pregnancy.
6. Insulin resistance in children is related to maternal vitamin B12 and folate status in pregnancy.
7. Gestational diabetes is associated with glucose intolerance and abnormal insulin secretion in the children.

Academic unit(s)

Human Development and Health Academic Units

Affiliate academic unit(s)

Human development and physiology Research group

Postgraduate student supervision

PhD and DM supervisor in Paediatrics and DOHaD, including international students
Supervisor for 4th year Study in Depth/Research projects
Internal and external PhD and MD examiner
Personal tutor to medical students

National and International responsibilities

Regular reviewer for more than 20 international journals
Member of the MRC College of Experts
Member of the Wellcome Trust Public Health and Tropical Medicine Fellowship Interview Panel
Member of the Research panel for the Indo-UK collaboration, Public Health Foundation of India
Secretary of the International DOHaD Society
Member of Scientific Advisory Group for DOHaD Society World Congresses


Book Chapters



  • Pre-clinical and clinical medical students
  • Post-graduate diploma/Masters courses for various health professionals, internally and externally
  • Post-graduate courses designed for CME
Professor Caroline Fall
Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Building 85, Life Sciences Building, Highfield Campus, Southampton, SO171BJ

Room Number:SGH/MRC/MP95

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