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Impact of delayed effects on human old-age mortality 1

  • Verhulst, Andrea1
  • Beltran-Sanchez, Hiram2
  • Palloni, Alberto3
  • 1 Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.
  • 2 Department of Community Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health and California Center for Population Research, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA.
  • 3 Labor and Population Unit, RAND Corporation and Center for Demography and Health of Aging, University of Wisconsin–Madison, USA.
Published Article
Demographic research
Publication Date
May 10, 2019
DOI: 10.4054/DemRes.2019.40.41
PMID: 31452626
PMCID: PMC6709713
PubMed Central


BACKGROUND There is growing empirical evidence supporting theories of developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD). However, the implications of DOHaD conjectures for aggregate population patterns of human disease, disability, mortality and aging are poorly understood. OBJECTIVE We empirically test two predictions derived from a formal model of aggregate population-level impacts of DOHaD. This model predicts that populations potentially influenced by delayed effects should experience singularities in their adult mortality patterns that can be empirically detected from aggregate data. METHODS We test predictions using a large mortality database for populations in the Latin American and Caribbean region (LAC) spanning nearly one hundred years of mortality history. RESULTS Results are consistent. within explicit bounds of uncertainty, with expected patterns. We find that younger cohorts in countries whose mortality decline starts more recently experience deceleration in survival gains at older ages, attenuation of the rate of aging at older ages and a decline in the association between early childhood and adult mortality. CONCLUSIONS Results point to the importance of adverse early conditions for human longevity. Future research should shed light on the impact on morbidity, disability and healthy life expectancy. CONTRIBUTION To our knowledge this is the first time that implications of DOHaD conjectures for populations’ mortality patterns are formulated precisely and empirically tested with aggregate population data

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