The DOHaD Story
DOHaD invests in the future by promoting health and preventing disease. Our Members work to understand how our environment during the first 1,000 days affects health and disease later in life, along with how best to put this knowledge into practice for the benefit of human health all over the world. We do this by advocating a life course approach to health, and by pioneering laboratory science.
Most of us know that our risk of developing diseases like heart disease and diabetes is influenced by our genetics, what we eat, and how much we exercise. But there are many more factors, for example, your parents’ health and stress levels, and the health of their sperm and eggs, that affect how you grow and develop in the womb. This in turn impacts how you relate to your environment and changes your risk of disease as an adult. As a result, your lifelong disease risk is determined by the interaction between your genes and early environmental influences that occur before or around the time of conception, during pregnancy, and in the period after birth — your first 1,000 days.
This is the DOHaD Story, and our understanding of it can help parents (past, present and future), health professionals and policymakers prioritize health resources, support and services to those that need it most. It is based on early foundational research by DOHaD pioneers including Professor David Barker, who recognised that failure to thrive in the womb increased the risk of adult diseases. He, and many after him, spent decades investigating the science behind these relationships. Globally, the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Society was officially born.
Our first 1,000 days, beginning from conception to age two, sets each one of us on a path toward future health or future disease, by affecting how we respond to health, societal and environmental challenges.
Giving the next generation the best start in life, and helping us all meet the challenges of our increasingly unhealthy lifestyles, is a global effort that involves all of us — including policy makers, educators, health professionals, and the wider public.
Our Society addresses the important implications of DOHaD-based ideas through knowledge exchange with stakeholders, raising awareness in young people, webinars for researchers and policy makers, and media and public engagement. Together, our Members work to disseminate and advocate DOHaD-based approaches to health.
We aim to improve the health and well-being of our communities by increasing knowledge and awareness of DOHaD-based ideas and approaches for a healthy start to life. Our educational activities are for the public, health professionals, parents (past, present and future), policymakers and other scientists.
The Society offers webinars, lectures, courses, meetings and workshops for individuals to gain hands-on experience from DOHaD experts globally. We also facilitate training opportunities and research collaborations for junior researchers to develop new research skills and knowledge with high-achieving DOHaD mentors across the world.
DOHaD scientists know that the first 1,000 days are sensitive periods when environmental influences can have powerful long-term effects on health. Different variables in our environment, such as nutrition, chemicals, stress and infection, affect biological pathways, for example, epigenetic regulation of our genes, structural changes in our cells, tissues or organs, changes to sperm, eggs and stem cells, and even alterations in our microbiome. There are clear sex differences, strong intergenerational effects, and variables in vulnerability across the life course, which are influenced by sociocultural interactions and other social determinants of health.
Our Society advocates that understanding the details and the magnitudes of these processes are essential not only to capture the attention of governments and policymakers but also to inform potential strategies for preventing human disease by improving environmental conditions at the very earliest stages of life.
DOHaD Members live in over 60 countries, across different geographies, cultures and climates. This is what makes our Society unique and enables us to be at the forefront of global health advocacy. To promote international research collegiality, the Society additionally provides linkages and support to DOHaD Regional Societies, where individuals that share a language, a geographical region, or a coordinated strategic mission have come together to advocate DOHaD-based strategies that result in healthy futures.
Click on the map below to learn more about our Regional Societies
- Australia, New Zealand + Pacific
- Latin America