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Early life risk and resiliency factors and their influences on developmental outcomes and disease pathways: a rapid evidence review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

  • Abdul-Hussein, Ayah1
  • Kareem, Ayesha1
  • Tewari, Shrankhala1
  • Bergeron, Julie2
  • Briollais, Laurent3
  • Challis, John R G4, 5
  • Davidge, Sandra T6
  • Delrieux, Claudio7
  • Fortier, Isabel2
  • Goldowitz, Daniel8
  • Nepomnaschy, Pablo5
  • Wazana, Ashley9
  • Connor, Kristin L1
  • 1 Department of Health Sciences, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 2 Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 3 Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sinai Health System, Toronto, ON, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 4 University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 5 Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 6 Women and Children's Health Research Institute and Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 7 Universidad Nacional del Sur Argentina, Bahía Blanca, Argentina. , (Argentina)
  • 8 Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. , (Canada)
  • 9 Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada. , (Canada)
Published Article
Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
Cambridge University Press
Publication Date
Jun 01, 2021
DOI: 10.1017/S2040174420000689
PMID: 32746960


The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) framework aims to understand how environmental exposures in early life shape lifecycle health. Our understanding and the ability to prevent poor health outcomes and enrich for resiliency remain limited, in part, because exposure-outcome relationships are complex and poorly defined. We, therefore, aimed to determine the major DOHaD risk and resilience factors. A systematic approach with a 3-level screening process was used to conduct our Rapid Evidence Review following the established guidelines. Scientific databases using DOHaD-related keywords were searched to capture articles between January 1, 2009 and April 19, 2019. A final total of 56 systematic reviews/meta-analyses were obtained. Studies were categorized into domains based on primary exposures and outcomes investigated. Primary summary statistics and extracted data from the studies are presented in Graphical Overview for Evidence Reviews diagrams. There was substantial heterogeneity within and between studies. While global trends showed an increase in DOHaD publications over the last decade, the majority of data reported were from high-income countries. Articles were categorized under six exposure domains: Early Life Nutrition, Maternal/Paternal Health, Maternal/Paternal Psychological Exposure, Toxicants/Environment, Social Determinants, and Others. Studies examining social determinants of health and paternal influences were underrepresented. Only 23% of the articles explored resiliency factors. We synthesized major evidence on relationships between early life exposures and developmental and health outcomes, identifying risk and resiliency factors that influence later life health. Our findings provide insight into important trends and gaps in knowledge within many exposures and outcome domains.

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