Physical and mental development of the young child

The early years are critical, because this is the period in life when the brain develops most rapidly and has a high capacity for change, and the foundation is physical and mental development of the young child for health and wellbeing throughout life. ECD is a priority area of work for WHO, as it is a window of opportunity to improve health and equity. The health sector has a key role to play. It has the potential to reach many families and children during pregnancy, childbirth and early childhood, and is poised to deliver effective interventions for optimal development of young children.

ECD Action Network, and many other partners, is launching the first global online public consultation on a Nurturing Care Framework for early childhood development. The first of a 2-stage online consultation is now open until 6th February. Getty ImagesA child sleeps with his hand tied to a bar at an orphanage in Ploiesti, Romania, on May 16, 1990. This particular orphanage is for children who have birth defects, deformities and intellectual disabilities.

Most people don’t need science to appreciate the importance of a mother’s love. But to understand how early maltreatment can derail a child’s development requires careful study — and is fraught with ethical peril. Such research is therefore often conducted in animals. A new analysis of data on 231 rhesus macaque monkeys explored the effects of three early-childhood conditions on the animals’ later lives. About half of the monkeys were raised normally by their mothers, living in social groups with other monkeys — a condition similar to their natural environment.