The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease hypothesis is tested using a cohort perspective on mortality. Data from the National Health Interview Survey Linked Mortality Files 1986–2006 and US economic data between 1902 and 1956 are combined to estimate how exposures to adverse economic conditions in utero and during the first three years of life affect circulatory disease mortality risk in adulthood. Cohort-based variation in these associations in these associations is also examined. Findings suggest that in utero exposures to poor economic conditions increased risk of death from circulatory diseases. Results are consistent with theory and evidence suggesting that developmental processes early in life are strongly associated with circulatory disease susceptibility in older adulthood. However, findings indicate that the mortality effects of these early-life exposures have likely weakened across birth cohorts.
Published in a peer-reviewed journal of the Population Council.