Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute

Graph correlating Type 2 Diabetes by month and year of birth and famine severity in region of birth. Image links to event page.



The Long-Term Impact of Pre-Natal Exposure to the Ukraine Famine of 1932-1933 on Adult Type 2 Diabetes
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Please join the Columbia Mailman School Department of Epidemiology and the Ukrainian Studies Program at the Harriman Institute for a conversation with L.H. Lumey (Columbia University) and Oleh Wolowyna (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Moderated by Mark Andryczyk.

Russia’s deliberate war strategy in Ukraine has disrupted agriculture and food storage and distribution systems to hinder food supplies to the population, with consequences extending beyond Ukraine. The war has created an immediate humanitarian crisis of catastrophic proportions.

In 1932-1933, Ukrainian food availability was also obstructed by Soviet interventions, leading to 4 million excess deaths in the Holodomor (death by starvation) famine. We reconstructed Ukraine births in the years 1930-1938 and found that men and women exposed to severe famine in early gestation had a two-fold diabetes risk in the years 2000-2008. This shows that food-crises related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine are likely to affect not only the current but also the next generation.

Dr. L.H. Lumey studied medicine at the Universities of Leiden and Amsterdam in the Netherlands and history and philosophy of science at Darwin College, University of Cambridge, England. He was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to study at Columbia University where he obtained MPH and PhD degrees in epidemiology. Over the last decades, Dr Lumey carried out a number of single and multi-generation cohort studies worldwide to investigate the relation between maternal nutrition in pregnancy and health outcomes in the offspring. These studies include men and women exposed to malnutrition during the Ukraine famine of 1932-33, the Dutch famine of 1944-45, and the Chinese famine of 1959-61. Dr Lumey is Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. Oleh Wolowyna has a Licenciado degree in Mathematics from the National Univ. of Buenos Aires in Argentina, a Masters in Sociology from the Univ. of Florida, a Ph. D. in Demography from Brown Univ. and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Univ. of Wisconsin in Madison. He is a Fellow at the Center for Slavic, Eurasian and Eastern European Studies at the Univ. of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and a two-time recipient of a Fulbright Scholar grant in Ukraine. He is working on the 1932-1934 Famine in Ukraine and Russia with demographers at the Ptoukha Institute of Demography and Social Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. He is the co-author of several articles on the topic and one of his articles received the ASN Huttenbach Prize for the best article published in the journal “Nationalities Papers” in 2020. Dr. Wolowyna is also the Director of the Center for Demographic and Socioeconomic Research on Ukrainians in the United States at the Shevchenko Scientific Society in New York. His latest publication is “Atlas of Ukrainians in the United States.”


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