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Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome. It affects 20%–30% of the US population, and it is increasing worldwide. Recently, the role of lipid-rich maternal gestational nutrition in spurring the development of NAFLD among offspring has been indicated. Fetal predisposition to NAFLD involves numerous physiological reroutings that are initiated by increased delivery of nonesterified fatty acids to the fetal liver. Hampered ß-oxidation, uncontrolled oxidative stress, increased triacylglycerol synthesis, and the endoplasmic reticulum unfolded protein response are all implicated in sculpting a hepatic phenotype with a propensity to develop NAFLD in the postnatal state. This review suggests a mechanism that integrates outcomes reported by a variety of studies conducted in an analysis of fetal hepatic metabolic capacity amid the maternal consumption of a high-fat diet. Potential preventive measures and therapies for use both as part of prenatal nutrition and for those at risk for the development of NAFLD are also discussed.

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This document was originally published by Dovepress in Hepatic Medicine: Evidence and Research. This work is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial. Details regarding the use of this work can be found at: doi: 10.2147/HMER.S57500