Epigenetics and early life origins of chronic noncommunicable diseases

Guoying Wang, Sheila O. Walker, Xiumei Hong, Tami R. Bartell, Xiaobin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


In light of the increasing threats of chronic noncommunicable diseases in developing countries, the growing recognition of the early life origins of chronic disease, and innovative breakthroughs in biomedical research and technology, it is imperative that we harness cutting-edge data to improve health promotion and maintenance. It is well recognized that chronic diseases are complex traits affected by a wide range of environmental and genetic factors; however, the role of epigenetic factors, particularly with regard to early life origins, remains largely unexplored. Given the unique properties of the epigenome - functionality during critical time windows, such as the intrauterine period, heritability, and reversibility - enhancing our understanding of epigenetic mechanisms may offer new opportunities for the development of novel early prediction and prevention paradigms. This may present an unparalleled opportunity to offer maternal and child health professionals important tools with the translational value to predict, detect, and prevent disease at an early age, long before its clinical occurrence, and as such, break lifelong and transgenerational cycles of disease. In doing so, modern technology can be leveraged to make great contributions to population health, quality of life, and reducing the burdensome economic costs of noncommunicable diseases in developing countries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S14-S21
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number2 SUPPL.2
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Addiction
  • Chronic disease
  • Early life origin
  • Epigenetics
  • Mental health
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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