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

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.


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