Early origins of health and disease risk: The case for investigating adverse exposures and biological aging in utero, across childhood, and into adolescence

Laura Etzel, Patricia Garrett-Petters, Idan Shalev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In this article, we suggest that aging and development are two sides of the same coin, and that developing a comprehensive understanding of health and disease risk requires examining age-related processes occurring throughout the earliest years of life. Compared to other periods in life, it is during this early period of acute vulnerability, when children's biological and regulatory systems are developing, that biological aging occurs most rapidly. We review theory and empirical research suggesting that processes of development and aging are intricately linked, and that early adversity may program biological parameters for accelerated aging and disease risk early in life, even though clinical signs of age-related disease onset may not be evident until many years later. Following from this, we make the case for widespread incorporation of biological aging constructs into child development research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-156
Number of pages8
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies

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