Early life programming as a target for prevention of child and adolescent mental disorders

Andrew James Lewis, Megan Galbally, Tara Gannon, Christos Symeonides

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review


This paper concerns future policy development and programs of research for the prevention of mental disorders based on research emerging from fetal and early life programming. The current review offers an overview of findings on pregnancy exposures such as maternal mental health, lifestyle factors, and potential teratogenic and neurotoxic exposures on child outcomes. Outcomes of interest are common child and adolescent mental disorders including hyperactive, behavioral and emotional disorders. This literature suggests that the preconception and perinatal periods offer important opportunities for the prevention of deleterious fetal exposures. As such, the perinatal period is a critical period where future mental health prevention efforts should be focused and prevention models developed. Interventions grounded in evidence-based recommendations for the perinatal period could take the form of public health, universal and more targeted interventions. If successful, such interventions are likely to have lifelong effects on (mental) health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33
JournalBMC Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Mental Disorders/diagnosis
  • Mental Health
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth/diagnosis
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects/diagnosis

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