Document Detail

Putting the concept of biological embedding in historical perspective.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23045673     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
This paper describes evidence that led to the concept of biological embedding and research approaches designed to elucidates its mechanisms. Biological embedding occurs when experience gets under the skin and alters human biological and developmental processes; when systematic differences in experience in different social environments in society lead to systematically different biological and developmental states; when these differences are stable and long term; and, finally, when they have the capacity to influence health, well-being, learning, or behavior over the life course. Biological embedding emerged from insights in population health on the unique characteristics of socioeconomic gradients: Ubiquity in poor and postscarcity societies alike; gradient seen regardless of whether socioeconomic status is measured by income, education, or occupation; cutting widely across health, well-being, learning, and behavior outcomes; replicating itself on new conditions entering society; and, often, showing that flatter gradients mean better overall societal outcomes. Most important, the gradient begins the life course as a gradient in developmental health, suggesting that the emergence of a multifaceted resilience/vulnerability early in life is the best place to look for evidence of biological embedding. To understand its character, the metaphor of the "archeology of biological embedding" has been used, wherein the surficial stratum of the "dig" is experience and behavior, the shallow stratum is organ system and cellular function, and the deep stratum is gene function. We are now ready to address the fundamental question of biological embedding: How do early childhood environments work together with genetic variation and epigenetic regulation to generate gradients in health and human development across the life course?
Clyde Hertzman
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Historical Article; Journal Article     Date:  2012-10-08
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America     Volume:  109 Suppl 2     ISSN:  1091-6490     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.     Publication Date:  2012 Oct 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2012-10-17     Completed Date:  2013-01-16     Revised Date:  2013-07-11    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7505876     Medline TA:  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  17160-7     Citation Subset:  IM    
Human Early Learning Partnership, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.
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MeSH Terms
Child Development
Epigenesis, Genetic
Health Status*
History, 20th Century
History, 21st Century
Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System / physiology
Models, Animal
Prefrontal Cortex / growth & development,  physiology
Social Class* / history
Social Environment
Stress, Physiological

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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