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Adolescent Health Development: A Relational Developmental Systems Perspective

By Richard M. Lerner, Claire C. Brindis, Milena Batanova, and Robert Wm. Blum

This is one of 26 chapters published in the Handbook of Life Course Health Development.   Abstract: The contemporary study of adolescent development emphasizes that the process of development involves mutually influential relations between the developing individual and the features of his or her complex and changing context. These relations are most often framed by models derived from a relational developmental systems metatheory, an approach to theory that is entirely consistent with the seven principles of life course health development. Concepts associated with these ideas are used to describe, explain, and optimize the course of development in the second decade of life and, as such, to frame applied research aimed at …

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Youth Vulnerabilities in Life Course Transitions

By Abby Hardgrove, Kirrily Pells, Jo Boyden and Paul Dornan

This paper examines youth vulnerabilities, with a particular emphasis on low- and middle-income countries. It touches on the challenges confronted by young people exposed to extreme, life-threatening circumstances, such as political violence and armed conflict, but focuses on vulnerabilities that emerge in key transitions experienced by most young people, such as those linked to school, work, partnership and parenthood. Such vulnerabilities not only hold young people back, but also are a barrier to capitalising on the demographic dividend. The paper employs a life-course perspective, highlighting the relationship between early influences and later outcomes, and examining individual life trajectories within a societal context. It draws on a range of secondary sources, …

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Optimizing Health and Health Care Systems for Children with Special Health Care Needs Using the Life Course Perspective

By Christina D. Bethell, Paul W. Newacheck, Amy Fine, Bonnie B. Strickland, Richard C. Antonelli, Cambria L. Wilhelm, Lynda E. Honberg, and Nora Wells

To date, life course research in maternal and child health has largely focused on elucidating fetal and early life influences on adult health and less on promoting the health of children with special health care needs (CSHCN). Consideration of life course theory (LCT) for CSHCN is especially important given their increasing prevalence and comorbidity, their disproportionate vulnerability to weaknesses or instability in the health care system, and the growing evidence linking child and adult health and quality of life. In this commentary we seek to advance the consideration of LCT for CSHCN. We (1) briefly summarize key issues and the importance of a life course approach for CSHCN; (2) present …

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Adult mental health disorders and their age at onset

By PB Jones

The study of age at onset of mental health disorders is technically and conceptually difficult. It is important to consider these age distributions in order to understand causes and mechanisms of illness and to intervene at an appropriate juncture for primary and secondary prevention. This article reviews some of the approaches to studying age at onset, sets out the evidence to support the assertion that adult mental disorders begin in adolescence, and finds that perhaps half of all adult mental health disorders have begun by the teenage years. The paper then discusses whether this fits what is known about the developmental neurobiology of the brain and introduces the implications for …

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Life gets under your skin

By Mel Bartley, ed.

Great Britain has a unique collection of studies in which people have been followed from birth into early old age. There are at present four of these Birth Cohort Studies, made up of people born in 1946, 1958, 1970 and 2000. The members of the 1946 and 1958 cohorts have generously allowed researchers to take a lot of biological health measures, as well as answering questions about their families, education, work, relationships and mental health. To these studies may be added others which have not followed people from birth, but which have measured changes in life circumstances and biology over many years. This booklet summarises some of the work that …

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Stress and the brain: how experiences and exposures across the life span shape health, development, and learning in adolescence

By Sara B. Johnson and Robert W. Blum

Recognizing the utility of a life course perspective, this special issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health examines the impact of experience in shaping brain and behavior from the prenatal period through adolescence. This issue is based on a conference, “Stress and the Brain: Implications for Health, Development and Learning,” held at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in April 2011. It was a collaboration of the Schools of Education and Public Health and was sponsored by the Carol and Eugene Ludwig Fund. The conference brought together a multidisciplinary group of experts to consider the role of stress, adversity, and experience broadly defined, during the prenatal, childhood, and …

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