Christopher W Kuzawa

Christopher W Kuzawa
Northwestern University | NU · Department of Anthropology

PhD MSPH

About

275
Publications
64,362
Reads
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15,271
Citations
Additional affiliations
January 2002 - present
Northwestern University
Position
  • Professor
Education
August 1994 - December 2001
Emory University
Field of study
  • Anthropology

Publications

Publications (275)
Article
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Recently, novel experimental approaches and molecular techniques have demonstrated that a male's experiences can be transmitted through his germline via epigenetic processes. These findings suggest that paternal exposures influence phenotypic variation in unexposed progeny–a proposal that runs counter to canonical ideas about inheritance developed...
Article
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The causes of obesity are complex and multifactorial. We propose that one unconsidered but likely important factor is the energetic demand of brain development, which could constrain energy available for body growth and other functions, including fat deposition. Humans are leanest during early childhood and regain body fat in later childhood. Child...
Article
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Evidence that fetal nutrition influences adult health has heightened interest in nutritional interventions targeting pregnancy. However, as is true for other placental mammals, human females have evolved mechanisms that help buffer the fetus against short-term fluctuations in maternal diet and energy status. In this review, we first discuss the evo...
Article
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The high energetic costs of human brain development have been hypothesized to explain distinctive human traits, including exceptionally slow and protracted preadult growth. Although widely assumed to constrain life-history evolution, the metabolic requirements of the growing human brain are unknown. We combined previously collected PET and MRI data...
Article
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Adverse birth outcomes, such as early gestational age and low birth weight, can have lasting effects on morbidity and mortality, with impacts that persist into adulthood. Identifying the maternal factors that contribute to adverse birth outcomes in the next generation is thus a priority. Epigenetic clocks, which have emerged as powerful tools for q...
Article
Background: South Africa's rates of psychiatric morbidity are among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa and are foregrounded by the country's long history of political violence during apartheid. Growing evidence suggests that in utero stress exposure is a potent developmental risk factor for future mental illness risk, yet the extent to which the ps...
Article
SignificanceTestosterone influences how animals devote energy and time toward reproduction, including opposing demands of mating and competition versus parenting. Reflecting this, testosterone often declines in new fathers and lower testosterone is linked to greater caregiving. Given these roles, there is strong interest in factors that affect test...
Article
Epigenetic clocks quantify regular changes in DNA methylation that occur with age, or in relation to biomarkers of ageing, and are strong predictors of morbidity and mortality. Here, we assess whether measures of fetal nutrition and growth that predict adult chronic disease also predict accelerated biological ageing in young adulthood using a suite...
Article
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Background Individuals typically show a childhood nadir in adiposity termed the adiposity rebound (AR). The AR serves as an early predictor of obesity risk, with early rebounders often at increased risk; however, it is unclear why this phenomenon occurs, which could impede understandings of weight gain trajectories. The brain’s energy requirements...
Article
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Recent studies demonstrating epigenetic and developmental sensitivity to early environments, as exemplified by fields like the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD) and environmental epigenetics, are bringing new data and models to bear on debates about race, genetics, and society. Here, we first survey the historical prominence of mo...
Article
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Background Consistent with evolutionarily-theorized costs of reproduction (CoR), reproductive history in women is associated with life expectancy and susceptibility to certain cancers, autoimmune disorders, and metabolic disease. Immunological changes originating during reproduction may help explain some of these relationships. Method ology: To ex...
Chapter
Nutritional, hormonal, and other aspects of the gestational and infancy environments have effects on biology and metabolism that persist into adulthood to influence risk for cardiovascular, metabolic and other diseases of aging. These effects are examples of developmental plasticity, which involves modified growth of organs and tissues and durable...
Article
Androgens are important mediators of male-male competition in many primate species. Male gorillas' morphology is consistent with a reproductive strategy that relies heavily on androgen-dependent traits (e.g., extreme size and muscle mass). Despite possessing characteristics typical of species with an exclusively single-male group structure, multima...
Article
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Individuals who are minoritized as a result of race, sexual identity, gender, or socioeconomic status experience a higher prevalence of many diseases. Understanding the biological processes that cause and maintain these socially driven health inequities is essential for addressing them. The gut microbiome is strongly shaped by host environments and...
Article
Current evolutionary theory conceptualizes fathers' childcare as highly facultative and likely contingent on a variety of local socioecological predictors. Much of the evolutionarily-motivated work on the predictors of paternal care has focused on smaller-scale societies, while similar, potentially complementary research in larger-scale societies h...
Article
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In a population of wild baboons, a new way to assess biological age reveals a surprising effect of social hierarchy.
Preprint
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Background: South Africa's rates of psychiatric morbidity are among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa and are foregrounded by the country's long history of political violence during apartheid. Recent evidence suggests that maternal trauma during gestation may intergenerationally impact the developing fetus and elevate the future child's risk for ps...
Preprint
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Background: Approximately 14.2% of newborns are estimated to be born low birth weight (LBW) in South Africa. Past work has implicated maternal prenatal stress as a potent predictor of poor birth outcomes, including preterm birth, intrauterine growth restriction, and LBW. However, less is presently known about the impacts of prenatal stress during e...
Article
Macronutrients consumed by the pregnant mother enter her homeostatically regulated metabolism, which buffers the fetus against short-term increases or deficits in intake. In contrast, hormones that coordinate this homeostasis, including cortisol, respond acutely to stressors. Because maternal cortisol crosses the placenta to influence fetal tissues...
Article
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Objectives Alterations in adult hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis activity have increasingly been linked with early life stress and adult depression, but a limited number of studies have used longitudinal data to explore HPA axis dysregulation as an underlying mechanism driving the long‐term depressive impacts of early stressors. Here we ad...
Article
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By tracking a group of individuals through time, cohort studies provide fundamental insights into the developmental time course and causes of health and disease. Evolutionary life history theory seeks to explain patterns of growth, development, reproduction and senescence, and inspires a range of hypotheses that are testable using the longitudinal...
Article
Objectives: Telomeres, emerging biomarkers of aging, are comprised of DNA repeats located at chromosomal ends that shorten with cellular replication and age in most human tissues. In contrast, spermatocyte telomeres lengthen with age. These changes in telomere length (TL) appear to be heritable, as older paternal ages of conception (PAC) predict l...
Article
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Objective To determine the magnitude of relationships of early life factors with child development in low/middle-income countries (LMICs). Design Meta-analyses of standardised mean differences (SMDs) estimated from published and unpublished data. Data sources We searched Medline, bibliographies of key articles and reviews, and grey literature to id...
Preprint
Telomeres are repeating DNA sequences found at the ends of chromosomes, which are typically shortened with each cell replication and are considered biomarkers of aging. Contrary to the shortening of telomeres that occurs with age in most human tissues, spermatocyte telomere length (TL) increases with age. These age-related changes in TL appear to b...
Article
Objective: We investigated the relationship between early life growth patterns and blood telomere length (TL) in adulthood using conditional measures of lean and fat mass growth to evaluate potentially sensitive periods of early life growth. Methods: This study included data from 1562 individuals (53% male; age 20-22 years) participating in the...
Article
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Introduction Placental morphology influences the intrauterine environment and fetal growth, which help set life-course health trajectories across generations. Little is known about placental characteristics in populations with chronic nutritional insufficiency where birth weights tend to be lower, and how these relationships between birth and plac...
Article
The association between lower birth weight and increased disease risk in adulthood has drawn attention to the physiological processes that shape the gestational environment. We implement genome-wide transcriptional profiling of maternal blood samples to identify subsets of genes and associated transcription control pathways that predict offspring b...
Article
Telomere length (TL) declines with age in most human tissues, and shorter TL appears to accelerate senescence. By contrast, men's sperm TL is positively correlated with age. Correspondingly, in humans, older paternal age at conception (PAC) predicts longer offspring TL. We have hypothesized that this PAC effect could persist across multiple generat...
Article
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A well‐established literature demonstrates executive function (EF) deficits in obese children and adults relative to healthy weight comparisons. EF deficits in obesity are associated with overeating and impulsive consumption of high calorie foods leading to excess weight gain and to problems with metabolic regulation and low‐grade inflammation that...
Article
Objective Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is rising in low and middle‐income countries, but studies of CVD epidemiology in such settings often focus on risk factors rather than measures of disease progression. Here we use the ankle brachial index (ABI) to assess the prevalence of peripheral artery disease (PAD) among older women living in Metropolitan...
Article
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Objectives The maternal environment during gestation influences offspring health at birth and throughout the life course. Recent research has demonstrated that endogenous immune processes such as dysregulated inflammation adversely impact birth outcomes, increasing the risk for preterm birth and restricted fetal growth. Prior analyses examining thi...
Article
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During sensitive periods in utero, gonadal steroids help organize biological sex differences in humans and other mammals. In litter-bearing species, chromosomal females passively exposed to prenatal testosterone from male littermates exhibit altered physical and behavioral traits as adults. The consequences of such effects are less well understood...
Article
Inflammation is associated with increased risk for chronic degenerative diseases, as well as age-related functional declines across many systems and tissues. Current understandings of inflammation, aging, and human health are based on studies conducted almost exclusively in high-income nations that rely primarily on baseline measures of chronic inf...
Article
Sociosexuality is defined as an individual's interest in uncommitted sexual activity and can be measured in terms of both psychological orientations and behavioral expression. In socio-ecological contexts in which adults monogamously partner and cooperate to raise children, individuals with unrestricted sociosexuality are likely to prioritize matin...
Article
Aim: To determine if field-typical storage and collection conditions are related to salivary testosterone (T), cortisol (cort) and secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) as measured using commercially available kits. Subjects and methods: This study assessed whether storage time (∼6 months to 1.5 years) at −35 °C impacted levels of the measured biomarke...
Article
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Socioecological theory predicts that male parenting among mammals should be rare due to the large payoffs of prioritizing mating effort over parenting. Although these predictions are generally met, in some promiscuous primate species males overcome this by identifying their offspring, and providing benefits such as protection and resource access. M...
Article
The phenotype is the set of physical or behavioral characteristics of an organism. Whereas the genotype is hereditary material encoded in nucleotide sequences (DNA), the phenotype is the product of the genotype developing within, and interacting with, the social and physical environment. Environmental influences on the phenotype range from relative...
Article
Developmental plasticity involves environmentally triggered change in the growth or development of a bodily or behavioral trait, and is generally nonreversible. It is an important source of human variation, and allows adaptation to diverse environments while also modifying risk for many diseases. The most plastic systems generate adaptations via an...
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Obesity, hypertension, and diabetes have risen dramatically in Asia, but few cohort studies track age and secular trends in these conditions. We use Cebu (The Philippines) Longitudinal Health and Nutrition survey data to document 1998 to 2015 prevalence and co-occurrence of body mass index (BMI; >25 kg/m²), high waist circumference (WC; >80 cm), el...
Article
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Objectives: Psychosocial stress is postulated to hasten senescence in part by accelerating the shortening of telomere length (TL). One pathway through which this may happen is via increasing inflammation and innate immune system activation-a pathway which recent studies suggest acts more strongly for those who grew up in low microbial environments...
Article
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Evolutionary theory predicts that reproduction entails costs that detract from somatic maintenance, accelerating biological aging. Despite support from studies in human and non-human animals, mechanisms linking 'costs of reproduction' (CoR) to aging are poorly understood. Human pregnancy is characterized by major alterations in metabolic regulation...
Article
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While research now consistently links consumer financial debt with adverse emotional health outcomes, specific forms of debt and their impact on measures of physical health are underexplored. This gap in knowledge is significant because different forms of loans and debt may have different experiential qualities. In this paper, we focus on a type of...
Poster
The maternal environment during gestation critically influences offspring health at birth and throughout the life course. Recent research has demonstrated that endogenous immune processes such as chronic inflammation adversely impact birth outcomes, increasing the risk for preeclampsia, preterm birth, and restricted fetal growth. Prior analyses exa...
Article
Full-text available
Telomeres are repeating DNA found at the ends of chromosomes that, in the absence of restorative processes, shorten with cell replications and are implicated as a cause of senescence. It appears that sperm telomere length (TL) increases with age in humans, and as a result offspring of older fathers inherit longer telomeres. We review possible mecha...
Article
Objective: An increase in cortisol during human pregnancy helps coordinate the onset of parturition, and can have long-term effects on offspring biology. Maternal cortisol can also be transferred to offspring via breast milk during lactation. However, little is known about how diurnal cortisol profiles vary by trimester of pregnancy or during the...
Article
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Developmental plasticity is a widespread property of living organisms, but different individuals in the same species can vary greatly in how susceptible they are to environmental influences. In humans, research has sought to link variation in plasticity to physiological traits such as stress reactivity, exposure to prenatal stress-related hormones...
Article
Early life cues of environmental harshness and unpredictability have been hypothesized to influence within-species variation in the timing of life history transitions and the dynamics of reproductive strategies, such as investments in mating and parenting. It is also believed that adolescence is an influential developmental period for male reproduc...
Article
The immune system not only provides protection against infectious disease but also contributes to the etiology of neoplastic, atopic, and cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Prenatal and postnatal nutritional and microbial environments have lasting effects on multiple aspects of immunity, indicating that immune processes may play important roles...
Article
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The Modern Synthesis led to fundamental advances in understandings of human evolution. For human palaeontology, a science that works from ancestral phenotypes (i.e. the fossil record), particularly important have been perspectives used to help understand the heritable aspects of phenotypes and how fossil individuals might then be aggregated into sp...
Article
Understanding the determinants of pubertal timing, particularly menarche in girls, is an important area of investigation owing to the many health, psychosocial, and demographic outcomes related to reproductive maturation. Traditional explanations emphasized the role of favorable nutrition in maturational acceleration. More recently, work has docume...
Article
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In recent years, research on how the human environment and life-style influence gene expression has generated considerable scientific and public interest. Articles in prominent international newspapers with headlines such as “Why your DNA isn’t your destiny” (Time Magazine in 2010) or “Poverty leaves traces in children’s genome” (Süddeutsche Zeitun...
Article
The gestational milieu is an important influence on fetal development and long-term disease risk. Here we assess relationships between maternal pregnancy inflammation, indicated by C-reactive protein (CRP), and offspring anthropometric outcomes measured soon after birth. Data come from female participants ( n =327, age 24.4–30.2 years) in a longitu...
Article
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Chronic inflammation contributes to a wide range of human diseases, and environments in infancy and childhood are important determinants of inflammatory phenotypes. The underlying biological mechanisms connecting early environments with the regulation of inflammation in adulthood are not known, but epigenetic processes are plausible candidates. We...
Article
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Objectives: The ratio of the length of the second to the fourth digit (2D:4D) of the hand is often used as an index of prenatal androgen exposure but it might also be affected by androgens during "minipuberty," a period of temporarily high testosterone (T) production in the first few months of life. To examine this, we tested the prediction that m...
Article
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Objectives: Evidence that fetal development has long-term impacts on health has increased interest in maternal-fetal nutrient exchange. Although maternal metabolism is known to change during gestation to accommodate fetal nutrient demands, little is known about these modifications outside of a Western, clinical context. This study characterizes ma...
Article
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Objectives: A low second-to-fourth (2D:4D) digit ratio, a retrospective marker of high prenatal androgens, predicts increased investment in costly sexually dimorphic traits in men in some studies, although results are mixed. Here we test the hypothesis that the association of low 2D:4D ratios with increased muscularity and decreased adiposity depe...
Article
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Objectives: The androgen receptor (AR) mediates expression of androgen-associated somatic traits such as muscle mass and strength. Within the human AR is a highly variable glutamine short-tandem repeat (AR-CAGn), and CAG repeat number has been inversely correlated to AR transcriptional activity in vitro. However, evidence for an attenuating effect...
Article
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Purpose: Telomeres, DNA-protein structures that cap and protect chromosomes, are thought to shorten more rapidly when exposed to chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Diet and nutritional status may be a source of inflammation and oxidative stress. However, relationships between telomere length (TL) and diet or adiposity have primarily been s...
Article
Objectives: Telomeres are repetitive DNA at chromosomes ends that shorten with age due to cellular replication and oxidative stress. As telomeres shorten, this can eventually place limits on cell replication and contribute to senescence. Infections are common during early development and activate cellular immune responses that involve clonal expan...
Chapter
Human and animal model research shows that prenatal nutrition influences early development and has long-term effects on adult biology and chronic disease. Much of this literature has emphasized the limited maternal capacity to buffer the fetus from stressors that negatively impact development. An alternative perspective recognizes that a subset of...
Article
Partnered fathers often have lower testosterone than single non-parents, which is theorized to relate to elevated testosterone (T) facilitating competitive behaviors and lower T contributing to nurturing. Cultural- and individual-factors moderate the expression of such psychobiological profiles. Less is known about genetic variation's role in indiv...
Article
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Background and objectives Life history theory predicts resource allocation trade-offs between competing functions and processes. We test the hypothesis that relative investment towards innate vs. acquired immunity in humans is subject to such trade-offs and that three types of early developmental exposures are particularly salient in shaping adult...
Article
Objectives: Testosterone (T), the primary androgenic hormone in males, is stimulated through pulsatile secretion of LH and regulated through negative feedback inhibition at the hypothalamus and pituitary. The hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis also controls sperm production through the secretion of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Negati...
Article
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Circulating testosterone (T) follows a diurnal pattern with high waking levels that decline across the day. The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis produces cortisol in a similar manner but also undergoes an abrupt increase in hormone secretion immediately upon waking (a cortisol awakening response, CAR). Whether the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal...
Article
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Background: Rates of overweight and obesity are on the rise globally, and excess adipose tissue may contribute to elevations in inflammation during pregnancy, leading to pregnancy complications and adverse birth outcomes. Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate adiposity and inflammation in young women as predictors of inflammation...