Babies born to women who eat a poor diet during pregnancy are more likely to suffer prematurely from chronic age-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, say scientists.

Poor nutrition in the womb has for the first time been linked with increased susceptibility to premature ageing by a mechanism that involves physical changes to genes involved in metabolism.

The study, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the British Heart Foundation, is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.