Untapped Potential: Maternal and Child Nutrition in the First 1,000 days

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A child’s brain develops faster from birth to age three than at any later period in life, building the foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health. However, the role that nutrition plays as the building block for this rapid growth is less known. How well or how poorly mothers and children are nourished during this time has a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and thrive.

Now more than ever – in the face of persistent racial health disparities, an ongoing pandemic and its economic fallout – we must unify around early childhood nutrition to make an impact on maternal and child health. To break the cycle of poverty & inequity, the US must prioritize nutrition for families in their 1,000-day window, the the time from pregnancy to the baby’s second birthday.

A new American Journal of Public Health special series, Volume 112, Issue S8, features more than 70 pages from 15 authors and begins to present the state of the science, research needs, and a policy agenda for optimal maternal and child nutrition in the United States. Never before has a journal series brought together papers on these topics during pregnancy, birth, the postpartum period, and early childhood.

Papers in the series address issues such as: nutrition security (by Sara Bleich, USDA), the role of pediatricians as trusted messengers (by Dr. Kofi Essel), effective interventions to diagnosing racism in public health (by Ricardo Salvador), how to improve breastfeeding outcomes without leaving anyone behind (R. Perez-Escamilla) and leveraging childcare for optimal nutrition for babies and toddlers (by Carrie Dooyema). White House Domestic Policy Advisor and Former Ambassador Susan Rice also contributed an editorial about nutrition and setting the foundation for our nation’s health, here.

One paper in the series encourages philanthropy to incorporate nutrition into early childhood logic models (B. Thomas, 1,000 Days.

A marketing toolkit developed by the 1,000 Days initiative, provides more information about the series, turnkey tools, such as social media graphics, template materials, and support materials for specific papers in the series.

Related readings from the 1,000 Days Initiative

Related statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

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