Professors Keith Godfrey and Mark Hanson have co-edited a new book published by Cambridge University Press.
Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) explores the relationship between early life experiences and adult health.
It highlights scientific and clinical advances since a first edition was published in 2006. There have been important breakthroughs in areas such as epigenetics and environmental influences.
There is also a new focus on the preconception period and the significance of paternal health.
A new approach
Southampton researchers are driving greater understanding of nutrition, lifestyle and metabolism in the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre. Their vision is to drive better health and care across the whole life course. This includes promoting the best start in life, and building resilience through childhood, adulthood and into later life.
Prof Godfrey said: “Southampton is internationally renowned for its research establishing the DOHaD concept. The concept has stimulated a new approach to understanding disease trajectories, with major public health implications.
“Research in the field has led to a 'lifecourse' approach that now influences international health policies. For example, it is the basis of major World Health Organisation initiatives.
"The approach also has important implications that go beyond health. They are critical to tackling disparities in society and to our economic future.”
Improving life chances
The publishers describe the book as a 'definitive guide' on the DOHaD field.
Prof Hanson added: “Southampton is at the forefront of research on the preconception period as a critical time to improve the life chances of the next generation.
"This is an essential text for clinicians and scientists to improve their understanding of the developmental origins of health and disease.”
The book, published this month, was co-edited by Sir Peter Gluckman (University of Auckland) and Professor Lucilla Poston (King's College London).
The chapter authors come from a range of backgrounds. They include nutrition, endocrinology, developmental physiology and molecular biology.