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Department of Archaeology


Children experiencing food insecurity, repeated infections and psychosocial stress have compromised development, and increased risk for non-communicable diseases in adulthood. While public health interventions have had limited benefits, addressing this is critical, both from a public health perspective and for the Sustainable Developmental Goals. We therefore seek to test the proposition that a life history theory perspective will inform interventions in both maternal and child health, thereby enhancing their effectiveness.

In conditions of limited resources, maternal metabolic and behavioural investment in her child may partially buffer against direct impacts. Allocation of metabolic energy by the offspring may be physiologically shunted towards vital biological functions (brain and immune function) at the expense of body growth. Finally, socio-ecological factors may moderate maternal and offspring energy allocation. In order to test the aforementioned proposition, it is vital to characterise these trade-offs and their timing, while identifying sensitive and practical indicators.

Scientific objectives

This project aims to combine life history theory with epidemiological and public health approaches by:

  1. Identifying household, maternal factors, and related indicators, to which infant growth, cognitive development, and morbidity are responsive, and the timing and magnitude of responsiveness.
  2. Building on objective 1, develop an evolutionary public health intervention to optimise maternal health, and infant growth and development.
  3. Bringing evidence to inform the emerging field of evolutionary public health

Welcome Trust

Team Members

Dr Rihlat Said Mohamed

Dr Douglas Momberg

Project Tags

Science, Technology and Innovation
Human Evolutionary Studies
Geographical areas: 
Research Expertise / Fields of study: 
Human Population Biology and Health
Biological Anthropology
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