The Case for Early Child Development Programmes (a Review of the Documentary "Brain Matters")

Mushtaq, Ammara, Farooq Kazi. The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health. September 25, 2019. "Brain Matters," Directed by Carlota Nelson, L9 Goodies, 2019. 72 min
  • Early Childhood Development
Reports and Tools
This “Reflections” article reviews the recently released documentary by Carlota Nelson, Brain Matters. The film focuses on the first three years of life when a baby’s brain is optimized for learning, highlighting evidence that child development interventions during this period yield lifetime developmental benefits. The film details four essential “brain boosting experiences” during this period, including responsive care, language stimulation, opportunities for play, and good nutrition. The review concludes that the film offers a compelling argument in support of ECD programs.

Do Effects of Early Life Interventions on Linear Growth Correspond to Effects on Neurobehavioural Development? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Prado, Elizabeth L., Leila M. Larson, Katherine Cox, et al. The Lancet, Vol. 7, Issue 10, October 10, 2019
  • Early Childhood Development
Research Articles
Linear growth and child development are often assumed to have common determinants. The authors assess this assumption through a systematic review and meta-analysis of interventions focused on length-for-age or height-for-age Z scores and child development outcomes for children 0-5 years old and during pregnancy. The researchers found that the determinants of linear growth and neurodevelopment are only partly shared; therefore, interventions should target determinants of both, if children are to thrive.

Early Childhood Development and Stunting: Findings from the MAL-ED Birth Cohort Study in Bangladesh

Nahar et al. Maternal & Child Nutrition. 2019, June 25:e12864
  • Early Childhood Development
Research Articles
The global early childhood development and nutrition fields lack robust research in low-income contexts on the link between stunting and child development. A recent study in Bangladesh, where 36 percent of under‐5 children are stunted, explored the differences in child development between non-stunted and stunted. The study found that stunted children had notably lower early childhood development scores than their non‐stunted peers on language, cognitive, social-emotional, and motor scales. In Bangladesh, stunting in young children is associated with poor developmental outcomes.

Early Childhood Development Through a Gender Lens: Designing Policies that Work for the Whole Family

Center for Global Development, December 2019
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Food Systems
Events
The links between early childhood development and women’s economic empowerment were the subject of the fifth annual Birdsall House Conference on Women. The event gathered researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to explore evidence-based solutions that benefit mothers, older sisters, caregivers, and children in a variety of areas, including nutrition and health.

Family Friendly Policies: Redesigning the Workplace of the Future

UNICEF, July 2019
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Social and Behavior Change
Reports and Tools
Most workplaces around the world have not yet adopted family-friendly policies. Yet such policies can play an important role in supporting the overall wellbeing of families, helping them excel professionally, financially, academically, and in achieving lifelong health. This policy brief from UNICEF’s Department of Early Childhood Development recommends four specific policies, including one that promotes breastfeeding support and highlights the importance of lifelong nutrition and gender equality. 

The Implications of Three Major New Trials for the Effect of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene on Childhood Diarrhea and Stunting: A Consensus Statement

Cumming, O., B.F. Arnold, R. Ban, et al. BMC Med 17, 173, 2019
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Nutrition in Humanitarian Contexts
  • Food Systems
  • Knowledge Management
  • Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning
  • Nutrition and Health Systems
  • Social and Behavior Change
Research Articles
With the results from the SHINE and WASH Benefits trials demonstrating limited impact of basic water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) on childhood stunting, what role does WASH now play in multi-sectoral nutrition programming? Following the studies, the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation convened experts to reach a consensus on five key messages in response to the new evidence. This consensus statement details those five messages.

Improving Parenting Practices and Development for Young Children in Rwanda: Results from a Randomized Control Trial

Abimpaye, Monique, Caroline Dusabe, Jean Providence Nzabonimpa, Richard Ashford, Lauren Pisani. International Journal of Behavioral Development. July 16, 2019
  • Early Childhood Development
Research Articles
The first years of life have long-term impacts on children’s development across language, cognitive, social-emotional, and motor domains, yet evidence on critical parent-young child interactions in low-income settings is scarce. A cluster randomized control trial in Rwanda compared the outcomes of light-touch and full-intervention 17-week courses on parenting skills and child development for families with children aged 6–36 months. The results revealed that children in the light-touch and full-intervention groups scored significantly higher on early childhood development scales across all domains than the control group.

Nurturing Care for Small and Sick Newborns: Evidence Review and Country Case Studies

Every Preemie-SCALE/Project, Maternal and Child Survival Program, August 2019
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Nutrition and Health Systems
Reports and Tools
Small and sick newborns face serious risk of developmental delays, but most newborns can survive and thrive, provided they have access to quality nurturing care. This package summarizes nurturing care evidence and best practices for this population. It includes an updated evidence review of the core elements of developmentally supportive, family-centered, and nurturing care; implementation experience from seven countries with high-, middle- and low-income settings; and a gap analysis to inform future research.

Nurturing Care Framework for Early Childhood Development: Dissemination and Uptake Since May 2018

WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank Group, the ECD Action Network and the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, June 2019
  • Early Childhood Development
Reports and Tools
One year after WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank, and partners launched the Nurturing Care Framework, they published this report on efforts by countries around the world to adopt it. To date, 30 countries have begun implementing the Framework and identifying entry points in the health, nutrition, and other sectors to deliver multi-sectoral services. The report provides an overview of uptake at the national, regional, and global levels.

Nutrition, Hygiene and Stimulation Education for Impoverished Mothers in Rural Uganda: Effect on Maternal Depression Symptoms and Their Associations to Child Development Outcomes

Atukunda, P., Muhoozi, G.K.M., Westerberg A.C., Iversen P.O. Nutrients. 2019, 11, 1561.
  • Early Childhood Development
Research Articles
Maternal depression is linked to poor developmental outcomes in young children. A follow-up of an open cluster-randomized trial studied the effects of a parenting education program for mothers in rural Uganda on maternal depression and child development. Participation in the parenting education program was associated with decreased maternal depression scores. Additionally, reduced maternal depression was associated with improved child cognitive and language development outcomes.

Progress of the World’s Women 2019-2020. Families in a Changing World

UN Women, May 2019
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Food Systems
Reports and Tools
As this landmark report points out, families can be, “places of love, care, and fulfillment but, too often, they are also spaces where women’s and girls’ rights are violated, their voices are stifled, and where gender inequality prevails.” To counter this reality, the report proposes affordable family-friendly policies to advance gender equality in a way that helps countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, including those related to nutrition, health, and early childhood development.

The Science Behind the First 1,000 Days: Linking Nutrition, Brain Development, and Nurturing Care

USAID Advancing Nutrition, September 11, 2019
  • Early Childhood Development
Events
The first 1,000 days between conception and a child’s second birthday is a period of unique development, representing both risk and opportunity. The foundation for a child’s brain is laid during this time, with 799 new neural connections established every second, making it especially vulnerable to external factors, including optimal nutrition, strong social support, and secure attachment. Enhancing the linkages among good nutrition, brain development, and nurturing care can strengthen multi-sectoral programming to improve health and development outcomes. In this webinar, Dr. Sarah Cusick, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, provided an overview of how nutrient deficiency in the first 1,000 days can lead to long-term dysfunction and how application of the general principles of nutrient and brain interaction can help inform programming. Patricia Jodrey from USAID’s Child Health Team provided further context through the lens of the Nurturing Care Framework.

Affordability of the EAT-Lancet Reference Diet: A Global Analysis

Hirvonen, Kalle, Yan Bai, Derek Headey, et al. The Lancet. November 7, 2019
  • Food Systems
Research Articles
The EAT-Lancet Commission created a global benchmark diet capable of both sustaining health and protecting the environment, but did not examine the diet’s affordability. This analysis strives to understand the diet’s cost around the world by comparing food price and household income data from 159 countries. Findings show that for 1.58 billion people worldwide, the benchmark diet is too expensive for daily incomes to support.

The Asia Food Challenge: Harvesting the Future

PWC, Rabobank, and Temasek, November 2019
  • Food Systems
  • Knowledge Management
Reports and Tools
The authoring organizations of this report foresee significant changes to Asia’s food and agricultural landscapes, with food spending expected to increase by around 7 percent per year over the next decade. As a collective call to action, the report outlines various opportunities for investment and innovation in key cities around Asia deemed “Agri-Food Tech Investment and Innovation Hubs.”

The Changing Face of Malnutrition: The State of the World’s Children 2019

UNICEF, October 2019
  • Food Systems
  • Knowledge Management
  • Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning
Reports and Tools
This year, UNICEF’s flagship report focuses on children, food, and nutrition, providing new data and analysis on malnutrition and making recommendations for keeping food systems anchored in children’s rights. Examining the “triple burden” of malnutrition—undernutrition, hidden hunger, and overweight—the report describes the “broken food system” at the center of the problem and the economic costs of malnutrition. It is accompanied by regional briefs and an interactive web feature.

Crafting the Next Generation of CGIAR Research: Policy Seminar

CGIAR, October 2019
  • Food Systems
Events
This seminar shared important messages from an upcoming CGIAR report and book on gender research in agriculture and natural resource management. The publications will synthesize current research and propose a forward-looking agenda for future research in this area. Covered topics include gender in climate-smart agriculture and nutrition-sensitive agriculture programing, among others. Introductory summaries for many of the topics are also available on CGIAR’s website.

Development of the Project-Level Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (Pro-WEAI)

Malaapit, Hazel, Agnes Quisumbing, Ruth Meinzen-Dick, et al. World Development, Vol. 122. October 2019
  • Food Systems
Research Articles
Researchers recently adapted the widely used Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index (WEAI) to develop a measurement tool that can help agricultural development projects better monitor and measure their impact. The tool restructures and adds indicators to measure project impact across groups and over time. Pro-WEAI is still under development and researchers are continuing to add to and improve on the survey methodology.

Early Childhood Development Through a Gender Lens: Designing Policies that Work for the Whole Family

Center for Global Development, December 2019
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Food Systems
Events
The links between early childhood development and women’s economic empowerment were the subject of the fifth annual Birdsall House Conference on Women. The event gathered researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to explore evidence-based solutions that benefit mothers, older sisters, caregivers, and children in a variety of areas, including nutrition and health.

The Effect of Food Price Changes on Consumer Purchases: A Randomised Experiment

Waterlander, Wilma E., Yannan Jiang, Nhung Nghiem. The Lancet. August 1, Vol. 4(8): 394-405.
  • Food Systems
Research Articles
Governments are increasingly implementing health-related food taxes to reduce consumption of unhealthy foods. Although research indicates that these policies are effective at reducing consumption of a targeted nutrient or food, little is known about their impact on the total diet. This study used a virtual supermarket to emulate different food price and subsidy scenarios and determine the effect of price changes on the consumer's total food basket. The study confirms existing research by demonstrating that food taxes can be used to improve diets, but also indicates a more comprehensive policy approach that combines multiple taxes and subsidies may be most effective.

Empowering Women for Food Security

Feed the Future, February 2019
  • Food Systems
  • Knowledge Management
Reports and Tools
Empowering women is one of the key ways we can work to improve food security for all. In this factsheet, Feed the Future provides a brief outline of three actionable steps they are taking to close the “gender gaps” in our food systems: investing in women, engaging men, and measuring empowerment.