Early Life Origins of Adult Health and Aging

Diana Kuh*, Yoav Ben-Shlomo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

1 Citation (Scopus)


The idea that factors early in life, whether in utero, childhood, or adolescence, can have long-term effects on later health has a long and interdisciplinary history. The term life course epidemiology was not coined until 1997, even though research applying a life course perspective to population health had been growing rapidly since the 1970s. Life course epidemiology has a particular interest in early social and biological factors that affect adult health, aging, and disease risk, and how these early effects are mediated or modified by later life risk. Growing empirical evidence that early life matters for adult health and disease, set within conceptual life course models and evolutionary frameworks, has strengthened the life course perspective as a general paradigm for the study of development and aging, health, and disease. This evidence has depended on the increasing wealth and richness of maturing cohort studies, that follow population samples from pregnancy or birth into adult life, or even across generations. This chapter summarises some of the key findings about the early origins of adult chronic disease and function within an integrated life course model of aging.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Aging and the Social Sciences: Eighth Edition
PublisherJAI-Elsevier Science Inc
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9780124172357
Publication statusPublished - 8 Sept 2015


  • Birth cohort studies
  • Developmental origins
  • Life course epidemiology
  • Maternal nutrition
  • National Survey of Health and Development
  • Stress response


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