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Evo-Devo of Child Growth: Treatise on Child Growth and Human Evolution



Evo-Devo of Child Growth: Treatise on Child Growth and Human Evolution

Ze'ev Hochberg

ISBN: 978-1-118-15614-8 October 2011 Wiley-Blackwell 240 Pages

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Working with principles from the fields of evolutionary and developmental biology (evo-devo), this fascinating work offers a new approach to analyzing child growth and development, examining each stage and transition in detail, from fetal development to preadulthood. Based on the author's in-depth review of the current literature and his own observations as a pediatric endocrinologist, the book demonstrates how the transitions between human life history phases represent unique periods of evolutionary adaptive response to the environment. In addition, the author explains why an understanding of these transition periods enables us to better understand the sequence and mechanisms of child growth as well as to better diagnose child growth disorders.

Logically organized and clearly written, Evo-Devo of Child Growth:

  • Sets a solid foundation of principles such as evolutionary thinking in medicine and child growth, life history theory, and heterochrony and allometry

  • Examines the relationship between child growth and the theory of life history

  • Applies evo-devo theory to fetal growth, infancy, childhood, juvenility, adolescence, and preadulthood

  • Explores the trade-offs and adaptive phenotypic plasticity during transition periods

  • Explains the role of life history theory in understanding and diagnosing growth disorders such as Down syndrome, Noonan syndrome, and Silver-Russell syndrome

In addition to the author's own analysis and observations, this book also features notes from leading clinicians and evolutionary biologists, offering additional perspectives on the relationship between evo-devo and child growth and development.

Evo-Devo of Child Growth provides a new perspective for evolutionary biologists to understand the phases and transitions of child growth. Moreover, it offers a new approach to help clinicians to better understand and diagnose a broad range of child growth disorders.


I. Introduction
a. Evolutionary thinking in medicine
b. Evo-Devo
c. Life history theory
d. Evolutionary perspective in child growth and maturation
e. Child growth and the environment
f. Heterochrony and allometry
g. Adaptive plasticity in life-history

II. Child growth and the theory of life history
a. Life-history stages
b. Transitions between life-history stages
c. Developmental plasticity and adaptation
d. Cultural adaptation to the environment
e. Adaptive plasticity of attachment behaviors
f. Note by George Chrousos on stress in early life: a developmental and evolutionary perspective
1. Stress concepts
2. Stress mechanisms
3. Pathological effects of stress
f. Note by Stefan Borenstein and Andreas Androutsellis-Theotokis on endogenous stem cells as components of plasticity and adaptation
1. The adult mammalian brain: Plastic or rigid?
2. Hidden plasticity potential in the brain
3. Neurogenic cell vs. neural stem cell
4. Does the role of neural stem cells change from the developing age to the adult?
5. The disconnect between neurogenesis and the presence of neural stem cells
6. Fetal vs. adult neural stem cells
7. Signal transduction of stem cell regulation
8. Beyond the nervous system
9. Conclusions

III. Fetal growth
a. Endocrine and metabolic control of fetal growth
b. The role of the placenta
c. Developmental origins of health and adult disease (DOHaD)
d. Imprinted genes and intrauterine growth
e. Note by Alan Templeton on the evolutionary connection between senescence and childhood growth and development
1. An evolutionary theory of aging
2. Thrifty genotypes and antagonistic pleiotropy
3. Thrifty genotypes and heart disease
4. Why we grow old: the answer

IV. Infancy
a. The reproductive dilemma
b. The obstetrical dilemma
c. Growth of the infant
d. Endocrine aspects of infantile growth
e. Infancy - childhood transition: determination of adult stature
f. Weaning from breast-feeding

V. Childhood 146
a. The weanling's dilemma
b. The grandmother theory
c. Growth of the child
d. Endocrine aspects of childhood growth

VI. Juvenility
a. The social/cognitive definition of juvenility
b. Paleo-anthropological juvenility and teeth eruption
c. Adrenarche
d. Juvenile body composition
e. Growth of the juvenile
f. Trade-offs for the timing of transition to juvenility
g. Precocious juvenility
h. The Pygmy paradigm for precocious juvenility
i. Evolutionary perspective in precocious juvenility

VII. Adolescence
a. Human evolution of adolescence
b. Transition from juvenility to adolescence
c. Pubertal growth

VIII Preadulthood

IX Evolutionary strategies for body size
a. The little people of Flores
b. Lessons from the great apes
c. The Handicap theory
d. Sexual dimorphism
e. The role of sex steroids

X Energy considerations
a. Endocrine control of energy expenditure
b. Weaning and growth in a malnourished environment

XI. Stage transitions: trade-offs and adaptive phenotypic plasticity
a. Trans-generational influences in life-stages transition
b. Epigenetics and life-history stage transitions
c. Note by Ken Ong on population genetics and child growth and maturation
1. Genetic adaptation
2. The genetic epidemiology of child growth and maturation
3. Basic principles and heritability estimates from twin studies
4. More complex heritability models
5. Heritability is dependent upon the setting
6. Essential genes for childhood growth and maturation
7. Common genetic variants for childhood growth and maturation:
8. GWAS findings lead to new biology:
9. GWAS findings lead to new phenotypic understanding
10. Genetic adaptations for childhood growth and maturation
11. Conclusions
d. Note by Moshe Szyf on the DNA methylation pattern as a molecular link between early childhood and adult health
1. Introduction
2. DNA methylation patterns and their roles in cellular differentiation and gene expression
3. DNA methylation as a genome adaptation mechanism
4. Epigenetic programming by the early life social environment
5. Genome and system wide impact of early life adversity
6. Prospective and summary

XII. Life history theory in understanding growth disorders
a. Down syndrome
b. Noonan's syndrome
c. Silver-Russell syndrome
d. Additional cases

XIII. When the packages disintegrate

XIV. Concluding remarks




 “It will be a valuable addition to the libraries of medical schools that have added evolutionary biology to their curricula.”  (The Quarterly Review of Biology, 1 June 2013)

“You would certainly understand the process better after reading this treatise, and maybe it may help you develop your own concepts of this fascinating phenomenon.”  (European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology, 2012)