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Environmental Impact on Health across Generations: Policy Meets Biology. A Review of Animal and Human Models

Marianne Lønnebotn (), Natalia El-Merhie (), John W. Holloway (), William Horsnell (), Susanne Krauss-Etschmann (), Francisco Gómez Real () and Cecilie Svanes ()
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Marianne Lønnebotn: Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen, 5018 Bergen, Norway
Natalia El-Merhie: Division of Experimental Asthma Research, Research Center Borstel, Leibniz-Center for Medicine and Biosciences, Member of the German Center for Lung Research (DZL), 23845 Borstel, Germany
John W. Holloway: Human Development & Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
William Horsnell: Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine and Division of Immunology, University of Cape Town 7925, South Africa & South African Medical Research Council, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa
Susanne Krauss-Etschmann: Division of Experimental Asthma Research, Research Center Borstel, Leibniz-Center for Medicine and Biosciences, Member of the German Center for Lung Research (DZL), 23845 Borstel, Germany
Francisco Gómez Real: Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen, 5021 Bergen, Norway
Cecilie Svanes: Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen, 5018 Bergen, Norway

Challenges, 2018, vol. 9, issue 2, 1-16

Abstract: Intrauterine and early life has been accepted as important susceptibility windows for environmental exposure and disease later in life. Emerging evidence suggests that exposure before conception may also influence health in future generations. There has been little research on human data to support this until now. This review gives evidence from epigenetic as well as immunologic research, and from animal as well as human models, supporting the hypothesis that there may be important susceptibility windows before conception in relation to exposure such as obesity, diet, smoking and infections. It is likely that we can identify vulnerability windows in men and women in which interventions may have an impact on several generations in addition to individual health. Establishing vulnerability windows affecting health over future generations, and not only in the now or the near future of the individual, may provide tremendous opportunities for health policy and practice.

Keywords: asthma; epigenetics; environment; immunology; intergenerational; transgenerational; susceptibility windows (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A00 C00 Z00 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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