Rafsanjan Birth Cohort

Background

During the past decades, as a result of better control of communicable diseases and achieving higher life expectancy, the global disease burden has continued to shift away from communicable to non-communicable diseases which now contribute to a major part of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and mortality worldwide . Similarly, in Iran, there has been an increase in prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases and their contribution to morbidity and mortality during recent years and this trend is expected to continue in coming years.

Taking into account the considerable individual and societal burden accompanying these conditions, interventions targeted at preventing these conditions have increasingly become a top priority for the Iranian health system. Developmental Origins of Health and Diseases (DOHaD) has provided new insight towards novel ways of tackling non-communicable diseases by interventions aimed at conditions early in life.

To date, however, little has been done with regards to such interventions in Iran, partly because of lack of local evidence for the effects of early life conditions on non-communicable diseases in adulthood. Furthermore, a growing body of evidence has associated pre and postnatal conditions with neurodevelopment in children. Therefore, interventions aiming at improving such early life conditions could result in an advantage in population mental capital, which in turn would have lasting effects through the life-course. Because of contextual and cultural differences, the findings of studies dealing with DOHaD that are mostly conducted in Western developed countries are not necessarily generalizable to the Iranian population. Our proposed project will be based on a multi-centre nationally-representative birth cohort to study DOHaD in Iranian population taking local contextual and cultural aspects into account. The findings of this project will not only inform policymakers regarding evidence-based interventions targeted at Iranian population, but also will enable Iran to become one of the pioneers of DOHaD research worldwide.