Developing differences: early-life effects and evolutionary medicine

Bram Kuijper, Mark A. Hanson, Emma I. K. Vitikainen, Harry Marshall, Susan E. Ozanne, Michael A. Cant

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Variation in early-life conditions can trigger developmental switches that
lead to predictable individual differences in adult behaviour and physiology.
Despite evidence for such early-life effects being widespread both in
humans and throughout the animal kingdom, the evolutionary causes and
consequences of this developmental plasticity remain unclear. The current
issue aims to bring together studies of early-life effects from the fields of
both evolutionary ecology and biomedicine to synthesise and advance
current knowledge of how information is used during development, the
mechanisms involved, and how early-life effects evolved. We hope this
will stimulate further research into early-life effects, improving our understanding of why individuals differ and how this might influence their
susceptibility to disease.
This article is part of the theme issue ‘Developing differences: early-life
effects and evolutionary medicine’.

© 2019, The Author(s), Published by the Royal Society. This is an author produced version of a paper published in PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link below. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20190039
Issue number1770
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2019


  • developmental plasticity
  • epigenetics
  • growth
  • nutrition
  • parental effect
  • predictive adaptive response

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