Safeguarding the healthy development of the next generation is vital for the long term success of the United Nation's Millennium Development goals. New research in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences highlights the need to integrate global strategies aimed at tackling nutrition and cognitive development within the first thousand days of childhood.
"Global estimates by UNICEF reveal that over 165 million children below the age of five suffer from stunted growth," said Professor Dr. Maureen Black from the University of Maryland School of Medicine and editor of the special issue. "Early stunting is an indicator which helps us estimate the number of children who do not reach their developmental potential."
Published via Online Access, the freely available special issue reveals how poverty, nutritional deficiencies, and a lack of responsive caregiving and learning opportunities combine to undermine childhood potential. The result is the estimated 200 million children in developing countries, under the age of five who are not reaching their developmental potential.
Professor Black and Professor Kathryn Dewey, from the University of California-Davis, highlight the importance of combining intervention strategies which focus on both nutrition and early learning. They highlight several implementation recommendations detailed in the special issue, including:
Effects of integrated child development and nutrition interventions on child development and nutritional status
By Sally M. Grantham-McGregor, Lia C. H. Fernald, Rose M. C. Kagawa and Susan Walker
Advantages and challenges of integration: opportunities for integrating early childhood development and nutrition programming
By Ann M. DiGirolamo, Pablo Stansbery and Mary Lung'aho
Issues in the timing of integrated early interventions: contributions from nutrition, neuroscience, and psychological research
By Theodore D. Wachs, Michael Georgieff, Sarah Cusick and Bruce S. McEwen
Measures and indicators for assessing impact of interventions integrating nutrition, health, and early childhood development
By Edward A. Frongillo, Fahmida Tofail, Jena D. Hamadani, Andrea M. Warren and Syeda F. Mehrin
Read the full list of papers here.
"This collection of papers contributes not only a number of perspectives on best-practices for realizing optimal childhood development through various interventions - especially nutrition - but also new ideas to foster increased study of problems that prevent health and well-being of children," said Annals Editor-in-Chief, Douglas Braaten.