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The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease: Implications for Paleopathology

Gowland, Rebecca; Caldwell, Jennifer L.


Jennifer L. Caldwell


Anne L. Grauer


The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) hypothesis evolved from earlier research by Barker and colleagues in the 1980s, which demonstrated a link between early life adversity and increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in adulthood. Since then, a growing body of work has emphasized the significance of the first 1,000 days of life (from conception) for disease risk in later life, including stroke, diabetes, CVD, osteoporosis, and mental health. This period is conceptualized as a particularly sensitive window of developmental plasticity, with exposure to environmental stimuli during this time resulting in potentially adverse adjustments to an individual’s phenotypic trajectory. The integration of DOHaD within bioarchaeological and paleopathological analysis has heralded a conceptual shift away from an exclusive emphasis on proximate causes of disease and toward a greater consideration of life histories and intergenerational factors. This chapter summarizes some of the key features and applications of DOHaD for bioarchaeology, including theoretical debates, and implications of this approach for our understanding of body/society interactions in the past.


Gowland, R., & Caldwell, J. L. (2022). The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease: Implications for Paleopathology. In A. L. Grauer (Ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Paleopathology (520-540). Routledge.

Online Publication Date Dec 30, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Jan 19, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jul 1, 2024
Publisher Routledge
Pages 520-540
Edition 1st Edition
Book Title The Routledge Handbook of Paleopathology
Chapter Number 28
Public URL


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