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A scientific consensus is emerging that the origins of adult disease are often found
among developmental and biological disruptions occurring during the early years of
life. These early experiences can affect adult health in 2 ways--either by cumulative
damage over time or by the biological embedding of adversities during sensitive developmental
periods. In both cases, there can be a lag of many years, even decades, before early
adverse experiences are expressed in the form of disease. From both basic research
and policy perspectives, confronting the origins of disparities in physical and mental
health early in life may produce greater effects than attempting to modify health-related
behaviors or improve access to health care in adulthood.