London: The first thousand days of a child`s life are of paramount importance, for they determine what sort of health condition the baby will have in lateral life, a British study has suggested.
According to a growing body of research, what happens during this period - the nine months in the womb and the first two years out of it - shapes a child`s chances of everything from developing diabetes in their 40s or 50s to having a heart attack in old age, Daily Mail reported.
The theory comes from decades of research by David Barker and colleagues at Southampton University.
The research supports the theory that parents maintaining a healthy lifestyle before and after conceiving a baby will give their child the best start in life.
Researchers believe that there are a number of critical stages in child development and if conditions are not perfect at every stage, problems can occur down the line.
Many of these danger points lie when the baby is still in the womb. But the brain, skeleton and immune system are still vulnerable up till the child`s second birthday.
The research suggests life expectancy can also be traced back to those early days and months, as can a lifelong battle of the bulge.
Poor nutrition, smoking, stress drugs and alcohol can all take their toll. And once the damage is done, it cannot be undone.
Barker believes that many health problems can be traced back to poor or slow growth in the womb.
He has shown that the lighter a baby at birth, the higher its odds of heart disease in later life.
Small babies are also prone to high cholesterol. This is likely because the liver, which controls how much of the unhealthy fat there is in the blood, also suffered in the womb.
Likewise, the seeds of diabetes may also be sown in the womb.