Clear evidence supports the recommendation of the Commission to Build a Healthier America that policy-makers devote substantial resources to meet the early developmental needs of low-income children.
Research conducted in numerous fields, including genetics and neurophysiology, over the past decade, suggests that adult disease can be traced to early life experience. In keeping with that body of evidence, the Commission to Build a Healthier America has made childhood health its top domestic priority.
This article, a review of child health and development research from the past 20 years, offers a brief synopsis of current knowledge. The authors update information developed for the Commission and identify evidence-based policies and interventions. The paper describes interventions undertaken to improve cognitive, social and emotional development, in particular for socioeconomically disadvantaged children. The authors review the different types of childhood stress and report recent increases in federal funding.
This article appears in a supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that presents the research and findings of the Commission to Build a Healthier America. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation established the Commission to broaden America’s health policy.