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Highlighting impact of environment in shaping future health

Media release
27 November 2013

Early life matters

Public forum will highlight impact of environment in shaping future health.

The importance of early life events in shaping future health and wellbeing was recognised in the Report of the Parliamentary Health Committee on the “Inquiry into improving child health outcomes and preventing child abuse, with a focus on preconception until three years of age” released last week.

The report cited research evidence from the Liggins Institute, amongst others, as supporting the focus on this critical period of development.

One example of this type of evidence comes from new research by Liggins Institute researchers, published just last week in the science journal PLOS ONE, which showed that adults, particularly men, who were born preterm are fatter than those born at term.

The research study found that men in their mid-thirties who were born before 37 weeks’ gestation were on average 20 kg heavier than a matched group born at full term. The preterm group also had significantly increased BMIs, a higher proportion of abdominal fat and less favourable lipid profiles.

In turn, children born at term to parents (both male and female) who were born preterm tended to have more body fat, with a greater distribution of abdominal fat, compared with the children whose parents were born at term.

The long-term legacy of the early life environment forms the basis for discussion at a public forum hosted by the Liggins Institute on Friday 29 November. “Womb to wellness – a conversation with our community” provides an opportunity for the Auckland public to join in discussion with leading researchers at the Liggins Institute and hear comments from community leaders on how research evidence is being translated into new care practices and communication strategies to improve the health of current and future generations.

The forum will be chaired by columnist and commentator Rod Oram with speakers: Liggins Institute Professors Sir Peter Gluckman, Jane Harding, Wayne Cutfield and David Cameron-Smith, LENScience Director Jacquie Bay, Mayor of Auckland Len Brown, Children’s Commissioner Dr Russell Wills and Dame Jenny Gibbs.

The forum follows the opening of the Liggins Institute on the University of Auckland’s Redeveloped Grafton Campus by Hon. Steven Joyce, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment and Minister of Science and Innovation.


Friday 29 November
University Grafton Campus, 85 Park Road

9.45am Opening of the Liggins Institute on the Redeveloped Grafton Campus

11.15am – 1.15pm “Womb to wellness – a conversation with our community”


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