Editor(s): N. Wagemans, S. Nicklaus, C. Jeyakumar Henry, T. Nicklas.
Infant and childhood nutrition form the basis of an individual’s health in later life. Multiple lines of evidence – from experimental to epidemiological – are converging to highlight the importance of this early period for metabolic programming, physiological growth and cognition. This is the cornerstone of the ‘developmental origin of health and disease’ (DOHAD) paradigm, underscoring the significance of infancy and early childhood for setting the foundation for health. Any public health intervention that seeks to improve the general health of a population or combat disease should therefore target infants and children in order to reap the greatest benefits.