Scientific research into the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) is now clearly demonstrating the inextricable link between maternal, perinatal and early childhood factors and the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and many other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in later life.
Many of these factors have long been recognised: unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, smoking, alcohol. Others are only now being identified: stress, altered patterns of microbial exposure, and environmental pollutants, for example. Importantly, the mechanisms and magnitude of their effects are much more profound than previously expected.
GPs and other primary health professionals are uniquely positioned to use this new knowledge for the benefit of their patients and society as a whole.