Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes, a Research Program of the National Institutes of Health
Decades of animal, clinical, and population-based research suggest that events that occur at the earliest stages of human development may lead to long-term, sometimes irreversible, adverse health consequences . Subtle cues during critical windows of development may be adaptive for the fetus or infant but maladaptive as the child grows and develops. The consequences may not reveal themselves until later in the life course. Modifying these factors during early periods of developmental plasticity likely entrains better trajectories of health, whereas later in life, attempts to improve health can be grounded on the shoals of entrenched metabolic, behavioral, and cultural systems .