Life Course

The LIFE COURSE APPROACH is a scientific method that looks at the experience (and health) of a person throughout their life – from conception, through development, to adulthood.

The LIFE COURSE method of understanding disease development (PATHOGENESIS) recognizes
     - POSITIVE experiences:  the lifelong impact of positive-nurturing early life experiences (leading to Health and RESILIENCE)
     < versus >
     - ADVERSITY-DEPRIVATION, often leading to failure to develop REGULATORY NETWORKS or system DYSREGULATION resulting in symptoms or disease (physical, mental, social).

EXAMPLE of how to construct a Life Course Chart

Keep in mind:  the Brain-Body evolves over time
HEALTH (or disease) is NOT from one event or source - But is the result of a CHAIN of EVENTS and EXPERIENCES

1)   Map out the person's lifespan in blocks of AGE   (including Prenatal)
2)   Identify when key experiences happen
3)   Identify when significant illness appeared 


1.  Bellis (2019)  Life course health consequences and associated annual costs of adverse childhood experiences across Europe and North America: a systematic review and meta-analysis.  Lancet.  Findings suggest that a 10% reduction in childhood adversity could reduce health expenditures by at least $100 billion per year.  Programs to prevent and moderate childhood adversity exist but have yet to be broadly implemented.

2.  World Health Organization (2000).  A Life Course Approach to Health Excellent data about early life neuroplasticity and world-wide impact.

3.  Association of University Centers on Disabilities.  Life Course Model as an Organizational Framework.  Excellent research on critical periods of development.



RESOURCE:  C. Nelson, From Neurons to Neighborhoods, 2000.


3.  Clark et al (Lancet 2020) A Future for the World's Children?  A WHO-UNICEF-Lancet Commission.  SEE IMAGE BELOW