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Investing in early childhood development essential to helping more children and communities thrive, new Lancet Series finds

Investing in early childhood development essential to helping more children and communities thrive, new Lancet Series finds | Source: UNICEF, Oct 4 2016.

249 million children under five are at risk of not reaching developmental potential, implementing low-cost interventions could reverse this trend

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 4, 2016 – An estimated 43 per cent—249 million—of children under five in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) are at an elevated risk of poor development due to extreme poverty and stunting, according to findings from The Lancet’s new Series, Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale.

The Series reveals that early childhood development interventions that promote nurturing care—health, nutrition, responsive caregiving, security and safety, and early learning—may cost as little as 50 cents per child per year, when combined with existing services such as health. The World Health Organization, the World Bank, and UNICEF contributed to and offered guidance to the Series.

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A mother with her newborn baby recovers in a postnatal ward at the Shakawe clinic in the village of Shakawe in Botswana on November 29, 2010.

The findings in this Series underscore the importance of increased global commitment to early childhood development. Individuals are estimated to suffer a loss of about a quarter of average adult income per year, while countries may forfeit up to as much as two times their current GDP expenditures on health or education. Consequences of inaction impact not only present but future generations.

“We now know how high the cost of inaction is, and new evidence makes clear that the time to act is now. We hope the evidence in this Series will help countries reach more pregnant women and young children with preventive and promotive services that have the potential to drastically improve developmental outcomes for children as well as their adult health, wellbeing, and economic productivity,” said Series co-author, Professor Linda M. Richter, PhD, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Human Development, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
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