Preconception Health and Our Grandchildren’s Future

”Life is the best time in a human being’s existence”, said the famous Finnish ski jumper Matti Nykänen once, but he did not know that one’s health is programmed before birth. E.g. they, who say that you are, what you eat, are not correct, because in fact you are what your grandparents have eaten. Of course, although your health is programmed before you existed, the programming is not deterministic. You can make choices both in good and bad – and accidents as well as miracles do happen.

Life course health development (LCHD) –perspective have taken more and more space in the health debate during the last twenty years. This perspective combines not only public health and clinical medicine, but also epidemiological research, sociology, education, psychology and many other developmental sciences. All these sciences have shown that human health is influenced by multilevel factors from gene to society.

In principle, the term ‘development’ is value free: ‘Development’ might develop in any direction. But because we are health professionals and when we talk about health, it turns ethically to a value related expression: No one acts to weaken but rather strengthen health. It is possible to say, LCHD is one kind of an umbrella to unite health promotion, prevention, caring, curing, rehabilitation and taking care of suffering.

The most important period in one’s health is the months before birth, but also years before fertilization: Preconception period of both parents and the nine fetal months. There is vast, growing evidence about preconception and prenatal origins of health and disease in later life. If we have even a minor understanding how health is related to the chain of generations, we can turn back to the beginning of this blog: Does our lifestyle ruin our grandchildren decades before they are born? Are we faster than the melting ice around the earth?


Jouni Tuomi, PhD, Principal Lecturer, Health Promotion

Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Kuntokatu 3, 33520 Tampere, Finland

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