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EarlyCause: The lifelong health impacts of early life stress on health

EarlyCause is a study to better understand the links between early life stress (ELS) and depression, cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic disorders.



Project status



1 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2023

Our research

The effects of stress during child development have been linked with both mental and physical diseases. These include depression, cardiovascular diseases, and metabolic disorders.

Researchers in the University of Bath’s Addiction & Mental Health Group (AIM) want to understand more about ELS and its long-term effects. As part of the EarlyCause project, they aim to help develop new treatments or therapies for individuals at high risk of developing chronic diseases related to ELS later in life.

Early life stress and chronic diseases

Research has found links between the accumulation of stress hormones in early life and mental and physical issues. This can potentially result in major diseases.

ELS is often caused by events such as abuse; both physical and emotional, neglect, and parental loss (including death or separation). Other forms of ELS include accidents, physical illness, surgeries, natural disasters, and war or terrorism-related events.

ELS affects around 75% of pregnant women (and therefore their babies) and around 50% of young children.

Team members

Project partners

EarlyCause, funded by EU Horizon 2020, brings together researchers from Bath and 13 other European institutions. These are:

  • The University of Barcelona (Spain)
  • The European Bioinformatics Institute (UK)
  • Erasmus University Medical Centre Rotterdam (Netherlands)
  • University of Zurich (Switzerland)
  • King’s College London (UK)
  • The Spanish National Research Council (CSIC, Spain)
  • Centre Européen de Recherche en Biologie et Médicine (France)
  • University of Oulu (Finland)
  • Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico – Fatebenefratelli, (Italy)
  • VU Amsterdam Medical Centre (Netherlands)
  • Empirica GmbH (Germany)
  • Combinostics Oy (Finland)
  • Pompeu Fabra University (Spain)


Contact us

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