Exposure to environmental contaminants and nutritional imbalances during development in the womb may increase an individual’s risk of serious disease later in life, according to a consensus statement recently published in the open access journal Environmental Health. The experts emphasize that because early development (also during the first few years after birth) is particularly sensitive to disruption, with potentially adverse consequences for health later in life, both research and disease prevention strategies should focus more on these vulnerable life stages.
The statement entitled, “Developmental Origins of Non-Communicable Diseases and Dysfunctions: Implications for Research and Public Health” is now open for co-signatories. Those who have already signed are listed in the Comment section and the signatories list will be updated during the first three months following the publication.
This White Paper represents the outcome of the conference, “PPTOX III, Environmental stressors in the developmental origins of disease: Evidence and Mechanisms”, held in Paris on May 2012. The meeting was attended by over 250 participants, many of them leading researchers on early life exposures and diseases. The statement highlights that the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) concept provides significant insight into new strategies for research and disease prevention and is sufficiently robust and repeatable across species, including humans, to require a policy and public health response. The conditions affected by these harmful exposures during development include the diseases, and syndromes that constitute major public health problems across the globe: obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, asthma and allergy, immune and autoimmune diseases, neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases, precocious puberty, infertility, some cancer types, osteoporosis, depression, schizophrenia and sarcopenia.
Written on 26 June 2012.