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Life Course Health Development 

Life Course Health Development
Chapter:
Life Course Health Development
Author(s):

Alice A. Kuo

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199309375.003.0006
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date: 09 December 2019

In recent years, new scientific data have come to light about the importance of the early years for lifelong health and development, with the recognition that many of the most common and costly chronic adult health conditions have their origins in childhood and adolescence. A profound shift has occurred in our understanding of the developmental origins of diseases such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, and type 2 diabetes mellitus, with a greater focus on how different risk and protective factors influence the developmental pathways that determine optimal health across the life span. “Critical” or “sensitive” periods of development are vulnerable to different stressors and exposures, as revealed by scientific breakthroughs in the basic, clinical, and epidemiologic sciences examining growth, tissue differentiation, and physiologic set points that influence an individual’s response to metabolic, physiologic, emotional, and environmental challenges throughout life.

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