Living with the Past: Evolution, Development, and Patterns of Disease

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Science  17 Sep 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5691, pp. 1733-1736
DOI: 10.1126/science.1095292

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Epidemiological observations have led to the hypothesis that the risk of developing some chronic noncommunicable diseases in adulthood is influenced not only by genetic and adult life-style factors but also by environmental factors acting in early life. Research in evolutionary biology, developmental biology, and animal and human physiology provides support for this idea and suggests that environmental processes influencing the propensity to disease in adulthood operate during the periconceptual, fetal, and infant phases of life. This “developmental origins of health and disease” concept may have important biological, medical, and socioeconomic implications.

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