Early experiences and life circumstances shape prenatal and early childhood development, with powerful impacts on the developing brain and body that shape health outcomes across the life course and can span generations. The preconception, prenatal, and early childhood periods are critical phases of development that help set the odds for lifelong health and well-being.
All children deserve the opportunity to meet their full health potential and lead a fulfilling life. Yet health inequities in the United States prevent many kids from meeting their full potential. Importantly, the odds of positive or negative health are never set in stone. Research shows that prevention and early intervention are effective for children living in circumstances that put them at risk (such as living in poverty or being exposed to chronic adversity). Practice, policy, and systems-level changes informed by science can reduce the odds of adverse exposures, narrow health disparities, and advance health equity.
Vibrant and Healthy Kids: Aligning Science, Practice, and Policy to Advance Health Equity outlines steps needed to move children who are at risk for negative outcomes toward positive health trajectories and reduce health disparities.