South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)
Building a healthy nation through research and innovation

Media Release

9 November 2015  

The Developmental Origins of Health and Disease Congress

An International congress exploring how adult health is shaped by early life exposures during pregnancy and childhood

South Africa| Clinical researchers, obstetricians, paediatricians, public health professionals and policy leaders from across the globe will meet at the Developmental Origins of Health and DiseaseCongress (DOoHaD) to explore interventions and policies that will optimise general health in early life.
“Research shows that a poor start to life is associated with an increased risk for a number of disorders, especially non-communicable diseases in later life,” says Professor Shane Norris who is congress Chairperson and Director of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC)/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit.

The SAMRC Unit, well-known for its extensive longitudinal data from the Birth-to-Twenty cohort, aims to address the national priorities of increasing life expectancy, decreasing maternal health and child mortality as well as strengthening health system effectiveness.

Data from the Birth-to-Twenty cohort show that children are at a significantly higher risk of becoming obese by late adolescence if they were overweight or obese between the early ages of four and eight. “Although, we will focus on various non-communicable diseases, this is just an example of the need for early intervention in light of the fact that South Africa currently has the highest rate of obesity and overweight among adults in Sub-Saharan Africa,” says Professor Norris. “We hope that bringing together health experts at this congress will encourage refreshing approaches to ensuring that children are healthy in their early years so as to avoid disease in later life.”

“DOHaD research has substantial implications not just for global health policy, but for many transitioning African societies and South Africa in particular,” he says. “Timely interventions may reduce risk in individuals and also limit the transmission of such disorders to the next generation.”

The DoHaD Congress will take place from 8-11 November 2015 at the Cape Town International Conference Centre.

Visit the conference website at

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Last updated:
29 February, 2016
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