Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: November 27, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412953948 | Print ISBN: 9781412928168 | Online ISBN: 9781412953948| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Life Course Approach
Helen L. Kwon & Luisa N. Borrell
A life course approach to epidemiology is the study of the long-term effects on health and disease risk of biological, behavioral, social, and psychological exposures that occur during gestation, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. The approach recognizes that exposures and disease pathways may operate independently, cumulatively, and interactively throughout an individual's life course, across generations, and on population-level disease trends. It acknowledges that exposures that occur during certain critical or sensitive developmental periods may have particular longterm health effects. Within chronic disease epidemiology, the life course approach has both challenged and expanded the prevailing adult lifestyle model of chronic disease risk. While many conceptual and methodological challenges remain, this renewed perspective within epidemiology has catalyzed a reconceptualizing of pathways of disease etiology and contributed to an increasingly multilevel and integrative understanding of the social, psychological, and biological determinants of health. The idea of childhood origins of risk for adult diseases was ...