THE LANCET SERIES ON CHILD DEVELOPMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES:
The Steering Committee of the Global Child Development Group led the group of researchers and policy makers that authored the series 'Child Development in Developing Countries' in The Lancet (January,2007 and September, 2011). The first Series provides evidence indicating that over 200 million children across the globe under age 5 are exposed to multiple risk factors in deprived environments, thwarting the possibility of reaching their developmental potential. Within this context, effective intervention programs that are feasible to be implemented in developing nations, can play a crucial role in enhancing early childhood development.Four years after the first Series, the challenge of supporting 200 million children under five years to reach their developmental potential remains. A new Series of two papers and a Comment now documents progress worldwide. The second Series aims to identify gaps in implementation and coverage of interventions, calculate the economic costs of missed investment in early learning programmes, and present new evidence on the causes and effects of developmental inequities in early childhood.
CHILD DEVELOPMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES 2
Commentary on the series emphasizing the need for global action.
Inequality between and within populations has origins in adverse early experiences. Developmental neuroscience shows how early biological and psychosocial experiences affect brain development. We previously identified inadequate cognitive stimulation, stunting, iodine deficiency, and iron-deficiency anaemia as key risks that prevent millions of young children from attaining their developmental potential. Recent research emphasises the importance of these risks, strengthens the evidence for other risk factors including intrauterine growth restriction, malaria, lead exposure, HIV infection, maternal depression, institutionalisation, and exposure to societal violence, and identifies protective factors such as breastfeeding and maternal education. Evidence on risks resulting from prenatal maternal nutrition, maternal stress, and families affected with HIV is emerging. Interventions are urgently needed to reduce children's risk exposure and to promote development in affected children. Our goal is to provide information to help the setting of priorities for early child development programmes and policies to benefit the world's poorest children and reduce persistent inequalities.
This report is the second in a Series on early child development in low-income and middle-income countries and assesses the effectiveness of early child development interventions, such as parenting support and preschool enrolment. The evidence reviewed suggests that early child development can be improved through these interventions, with effects greater for programmes of higher quality and for the most vulnerable children. Other promising interventions for the promotion of early child development include children's educational media, interventions with children at high risk, and combining the promotion of early child development with conditional cash transfer programmes. Effective investments in early child development have the potential to reduce inequalities perpetuated by poverty, poor nutrition, and restricted learning opportunities. A simulation model of the potential long-term economic effects of increasing preschool enrolment to 25% or 50% in every low-income and middle-income country showed a benefit-to-cost ratio ranging from 6·4 to 17·6, depending on preschool enrolment rate and discount rate.To read the full text articles click below >>>>
The compelling persuasive new research on early child development reported in The Lancet by the Global Child Development Group has led Nobel laureate James Heckman to argue the MDGs be amended. Read on for responses of ECD stakeholders to the new publication.
Gordon Alexander, Director of the Office of Research at UNICEF's Innocenti Research Centre, reports in The Guardian.
A debate with Nobel Laureate Prof. J. Heckman, the Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet, Dr. R. Horton, and the Chief of UNICEF's ECD Unit, Dr. N. Ulkuer.
CHILD DEVELOPMENT IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES 1
This commentary emhasizes the relevance of the three Lancet papers that outline the challenges faced by over 200 million children aged under five in developing nations and the strategic actions required for prevention.The possibility of responding to this challenge based on Jim Grant's ten commandments is articulated. The role and response of stakeholders is a critical determinant of how effectively this challenge will be dealt with.
Many children younger than 5 years in developing countries are exposed to multiple risks, including poverty, malnutrition,poor health, and unstimulating home environments, which detrimentally aff ect their cognitive, motor, and socialemotional development. There are few national statistics on the development of young children in developing countries.We therefore identifi ed two factors with available worldwide data—the prevalence of early childhood stunting and the number of people living in absolute poverty—to use as indicators of poor development. We show that both indicators are closely associated with poor cognitive and educational performance in children and use them to estimate that over 200 million children under 5 years are not fulfi lling their developmental potential. Most of these children live in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. These disadvantaged children are likely to do poorly in school and subsequently have low incomes, high fertility, and provide poor care for their children, thus contributing to the intergenerational transmission of poverty.
Poverty and associated health, nutrition, and social factors prevent at least 200 million children in developing countries from attaining their developmental potential. We review the evidence linking compromised development with modifiable biological and psychosocial risks encountered by children from birth to 5 years of age. We identify four key risk factors where the need for intervention is urgent: stunting, inadequate cognitive stimulation, iodine deficiency,and iron deficiency anaemia. The evidence is also sufficient to warrant interventions for malaria, intrauterine growth restriction, maternal depression, exposure to violence, and exposure to heavy metals. We discuss the research needed to clarify the eff ect of other potential risk factors on child development. The prevalence of the risk factors and their effect on development and human potential are substantial. Furthermore, risks often occur together or cumulatively,with concomitant increased adverse effects on the development of the world’s poorest children.
This paper is the third in the Child Development Series. The first paper showed that more than 200 million children under 5 years of age in developing countries do not reach their developmental potential. The second paper identified four well-documented risks: stunting, iodine defi ciency, iron defi ciency anaemia, and inadequate cognitive stimulation,plus four potential risks based on epidemiological evidence: maternal depression, violence exposure, environmental contamination, and malaria. This paper assesses strategies to promote child development and to prevent or ameliorate the loss of developmental potential. The most eff ective early child development programmes provide direct learning
experiences to children and families, are targeted toward younger and disadvantaged children, are of longer duration,high quality, and high intensity, and are integrated with family support, health, nutrition, or educational systems andservices. Despite convincing evidence, programme coverage is low. To achieve the Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty and ensuring primary school completion for both girls and boys, governments and civil society should consider expanding high quality, cost-eff ective early child development programmes.
To read full text articles in this series click the link >>>>