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Measurement Webinar - "Data Linkage" featuring Kimberlyn McGrail, PhD (Scientific Director, Population Data BC) and Anne Gadermann, PhD (Assistant Professor, Human Early Learning Partnership, School of Population and Public Health). August 1, 2019, 11am-noon PT. REGISTER HERE.

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Early Developmental Conditioning of Later Health and Disease: Physiology or Pathophysiology?

By M. A. Hanson and P. D. Gluckman

Extensive experimental animal studies and epidemiological observations have shown that environmental influences during early development affect the risk of later pathophysiological processes associated with chronic, especially noncommunicable, disease (NCD). This field is recognized as the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD). We discuss the extent to which DOHaD represents the result of the physiological processes of developmental plasticity, which may have potential adverse consequences in terms of NCD risk later, or whether it is the manifestation of pathophysiological processes acting in early life but only becoming apparent as disease later. We argue that the evidence suggests the former, through the operation of conditioning processes induced across the normal range …

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Longitudinal changes in infant body composition: association with childhood obesity

By M.B. Koontz, D.D. Gunzler, L. Presley and PM Catalano

Summary   Background Rapid weight gain in infancy has been established as a risk factor for the development of later obesity.   Objective We aimed to investigate the role of changes in infant body composition (assessed via total body electrical conductivity) on the development of overweight/obesity in mid-childhood.   Methods Fifty-three term infants were evaluated at birth, three times during infancy and in mid-childhood. Logistic regression was used to determine associations between rates of total weight gain, fat mass gain and lean mass gain during infancy and later overweight/obesity (defined as body mass index [BMI] ≥85th percentile), adjusted for birth weight and parent education.   Results At follow-up (age 9.0 ± 1.8 …

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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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Long run impacts of childhood access to the safety net

By H Hoynes, D Whitmore Schanzenbach and D Almond

A growing economics literature establishes a causal link between in utero shocks and health and human capital in adulthood. Most studies rely on extreme negative shocks such as famine and pandemics. We are the first to examine the impact of a positive and policy-driven change in economic resources available in utero and during childhood. In particular, we focus on the introduction of a key element of the U.S. safety net, the Food Stamp Program, which was rolled out across counties in the U.S. between 1961 and 1975. We use the Panel Study of Income Dynamics to assemble unique data linking family background and county of residence in early childhood to …

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Prenatal, perinatal, early life, and sociodemographic factors underlying racial differences in the likelihood of high body mass index in early childhood

By MM Weden MM, P Brownell P and MS Rendall

OBJECTIVES: We investigated early childhood disparities in high body mass index (BMI) between Black and White US children. METHODS: We compared differences in Black and White children’s prevalence of sociodemographic, prenatal, perinatal, and early life risk and protective factors; fit logistic regression models predicting high BMI (≥ 95th percentile) at age 4 to 5 years to 2 nationally representative samples followed from birth; and performed separate and pooled-survey estimations of these models. RESULTS: After adjustment for sample design-related variables, models predicting high BMI in the 2 samples were statistically indistinguishable. In the pooled-survey models, Black children’s odds of high BMI were 59% higher than White children’s (odds ratio [OR] = …

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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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Exposure to violence during childhood is associated with telomere erosion from 5 to 10 years of age: a longitudinal study

By I Shalev, TE Moffitt, K Sugden, B Williams, RM Houts, A Danese, J Mill, L Arseneault and A Caspi

There is increasing interest in discovering mechanisms that mediate the effects of childhood stress on late-life disease morbidity and mortality. Previous studies have suggested one potential mechanism linking stress to cellular aging, disease and mortality in humans: telomere erosion. We examined telomere erosion in relation to children’s exposure to violence, a salient early-life stressor, which has known long-term consequences for well-being and is a major public-health and social-welfare problem. Compared with their counterparts, the children who experienced two or more kinds of violence exposure showed significantly more telomere erosion between age-5 baseline and age-10 follow-up measurements, even after adjusting for sex, socioeconomic status and body mass index. This finding provides …

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Building a new biodevelopmental framework to guide the future of early childhood policy

By Jack P. Shonkoff

Four decades of early childhood policy and program development indicate that evidence-based interventions can improve life outcomes, and dramatic advances in the biological and behavioral sciences now provide an opportunity to augment those impacts. The challenge of reducing the gap between what we know and what we do to promote the healthy development of young children is to view current best practices as a starting point and to leverage scientific concepts to inspire fresh thinking. This article offers an integrated, biodevelopmental framework to promote greater understanding of the antecedents and causal pathways that lead to disparities in health, learning and behavior in order to inform the development of enhanced theories …

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How experience gets under the skin to create gradients in developmental health

By Clyde Hertzman and W. Thomas Boyce

Social environments and experiences get under the skin early in life in ways that affect the course of human development. Because most factors associated with early child development are a function of socio-economic status, differences in early child development form a socio-economic gradient. We are now learning how, when and by what means early experiences influence key biological systems over the long term to produce gradients: a process known as biological embedding. Opportunities for biological embedding are tethered closely to sensitive periods in the development of neural circuitry. Epigenetic regulation is the best example of operating principles relevant to biological embedding. We are now in a position to ask how …

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Early childhood health promotion and its life course health consequences

By Bernard Guyer, Sai Ma, Holly Grason, Kevin D. Frick, Deborah F. Perry, Alyssa Sharkey and Jennifer McIntosh

To explore whether health promotion efforts targeted at preschool-age children can improve health across the life span and improve future economic returns to society, we selected 4 health topics to review—tobacco exposure, unintentional injury, obesity, and mental health—that are clinically and epidemiologically significant, and represent the complex nature of health problems in this early period of life. The peer-reviewed literature was searched to assess the level of evidence for short and long-term health impacts of health promotion and disease prevention interventions for children from before birth to age 5. This review sought to document the monetary burden of poor child health, the cost implications of preventing and treating child health …

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