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Child Development in Developing Countries 2/2

Lake, A, (2011). Early childhood development – global action is overdue.The Lancet, Vol. 378 (9799),1277 – 1278, doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)61450-5. Published Online: 23 September 2011.

Commentary on the series emphasizing the need for global action.

Walker, S.P, Wachs, T.D., Grantham-McGregor, S., Black, M.M., Nelson, C.A., Huffman, S.L., Baker-Henningham, H.,Chang. S.M., Hamadani, J.D., Lozoff, B., Meeks Gardner, J., Powell, C.A., Rahman, A. and Richter, L. (2011). Inequality in early childhood: risk and protective factors for early child development.The Lancet, Vol.378 (9799),1325 – 1338,doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60555-2.Published Online: 23 September 2011.
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.

Engle, P.L.,Fernald, L.C.H., Alderman,H., Behrman,J., O’Gara,C.,Yousafzai, A., Cabral de Mello,M., Hidrobo,M.,Ulkuer,N., Ertem,I.,Iltus,S. and the Global Child Development Steering Group (2011).Strategies for reducing inequalities and improving developmental outcomes for young children in low-income and middle-income countries. The Lancet.
The Lancet, Vol.378 (9799),1339 – 1353.doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60889-1.Published Online: 23 September 2011
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.