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Matern Child Nutr. 2017 Jan;13(1):3-6. doi: 10.1111/mcn.12387.

The role of nutrition in integrated early child development in the 21st century: contribution from the Maternal and Child Nutrition journal.

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Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
Maternal and Infant Nutrition and Nurture Unit, Brook Building, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK.


Even though it is widely recognized that early childhood development (ECD) is one of the most important predictors of future social capital and national productivity, the recently published ECD Lancet Series reports that about 250 million children under 5 years are at risk of not reaching their developmental potential, mainly as a result of poverty and social injustice. So why is this and what will it take to reverse this situation? The purpose of this special issue is to highlight important contributions from previously published articles in Maternal & Child Nutrition to the field of nutrition and ECD. The collection of papers presented in this special issue collectively indicates that although nutrition-specific interventions are essential for child development, they are not sufficient by themselves for children to reach their full developmental potential. This is because ECD is influenced by many other factors besides nutrition, including hand washing/sanitation, parenting skills, psychosocial stimulation, and social protection. Future research should focus on mixed-methods implementation science seeking to understand how best to translate evidence-based integrated ECD packages into effective intersectoral policies and programs on a large scale. In addition to health and nutrition, these programs need to consider and include responsive parenting (including responsive feeding), learning stimulation, education, and social protection. Future studies should also address if and how childhood obesity affects human physical, socioemotional, and cognitive development.


child policies; child programs; early child development; social protection

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