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Epidemiology is the study of the occurrence, distribution, causes and effects of diseases. The main goal in epidemiological research is prevention of disease at primary, secondary and tertiary levels. To increase the knowledge in the causes of diseases intervention at a population level there is a need to understand more of the complex interplay between lifetime environmental and genetic impact on disease outcome. Life course epidemiology examines biological, behavioural, and social pathways that link exposures during gestation, childhood, adolescence, and adult life, and across generations, to influence health and health inequalities in later life.
In the research community today it is a common understanding that the majority of chronic diseases and cancer are likely to result from the combination of environmental exposures and genetics, and there is growing evidence that the whole life-course influences the risk of disease in adults. A life course approach to chronic disease epidemiology explicitly recognizes the importance of time and timing in understanding causal links between exposures and outcomes within an individual life course, across generations, and on population level.
Chronic conditions develop over time, and time lags between exposure, disease initiation, and clinical recognition suggest that exposures early in life are involved in initiating disease processes prior to clinical manifestations. Many important adult risk factors for chronic diseases, such as smoking, diet, physical activity have their own natural histories, e.g. what people eat or do not eat in adulthood may be sensitive to the dietary habits they established in early life.
Applying a life course approach in research introduce multiple methodological and analytic challenges concerning study design, data collection, and interpretation of results. To measure the life course exposures at an individual level requires solid data sources from large cohorts collected at different time-points in an individual’s life from conception to death, as well as large computing capacity and innovative biostatistic and bioinformatic tools. We welcome manuscripts from all fields and specialities of epidemiology.
The life course epidemiology mission is to publish high-quality epidemiologic research and methodologic innovations that educate and inform readers, influence policy, and improve public health and health care.
Indexed in: PubMed, PubMed Central, Scopus, DOAJ, CrossRef, Science Citation Index Expanded, CLOCKSS
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