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Entangled lives: Implications of the developmental origins of health and disease hypothesis for bioarchaeology and the life course

Gowland, R.L.

Entangled lives: Implications of the developmental origins of health and disease hypothesis for bioarchaeology and the life course Thumbnail


Authors



Abstract

Epidemiological research since the 1980s has highlighted the consequences of early life adversity, particularly during gestation and early infancy, for adult health (the “Barker hypothesis”). The fast-evolving field of molecular epigenetics is providing explanatory mechanisms concerning phenotypic plasticity in response to developmental stressors and the accumulation of disease risk throughout life. In addition, there is now evidence for the heritability of poor health across generations via epigenetic modifications. This research has the potential to invoke a paradigmatic shift in how we interpret factors such as growth insults and immune response in past skeletal remains. It demonstrates that health cannot be understood in terms of immediate environmental circumstances alone. Furthermore, it requires both a theoretical and practical re-evaluation of disease biographies and the life course more generally. Individual life courses can no longer be regarded as discrete, bounded, life histories, with clearly defined beginning and end points. If socioeconomic circumstances can have intergenerational effects, including disease susceptibility and growth stunting, then individual biographies should be viewed as nested or “embedded” within the lives of others. This commingling of life courses may prove problematic to unravel; nevertheless, this review aims to consider the potential consequences for bioarchaeological interpretations. These include a greater consideration of: the temporal power of human skeletons and a life course approach to past health; infant health and the implications for maternal well-being; and the impact of non-proximate stressors (e.g., early life and ancestral environments) on the presence of health indicators.

Citation

Gowland, R. (2015). Entangled lives: Implications of the developmental origins of health and disease hypothesis for bioarchaeology and the life course. American journal of physical anthropology, 158(4), 530-540. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.22820

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 4, 2015
Online Publication Date Aug 26, 2015
Publication Date Dec 1, 2015
Deposit Date Sep 4, 2015
Publicly Available Date Aug 26, 2016
Journal American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Print ISSN 0002-9483
Electronic ISSN 1096-8644
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 158
Issue 4
Pages 530-540
DOI https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.22820

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Copyright Statement
This is the accepted version of the following article: Gowland, R. L. (2015), Entangled lives: Implications of the developmental origins of health and disease hypothesis for bioarchaeology and the life course. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 158(4): 530-540, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.22820. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.





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