Advances in science are fundamentally changing the way we understand how inextricable interactions among genetic predispositions, physical and social environments, and developmental timing influence early childhood development and the foundations of health and how significant early adversity can lead to a lifetime of chronic health impairments. This article and companion article illustrate the extent to which differential outcomes are shaped by ongoing interactive adaptations to context that begin at or even before conception and continue throughout life, with increasing evidence pointing to the importance of the prenatal period and early infancy for the developing brain, the immune system, and metabolic regulation. Although new discoveries in the basic sciences are transforming tertiary medical care and producing breakthrough outcomes in treating disease, this knowledge is not being leveraged effectively to inform new approaches to promoting whole-child development and preventing illness. The opportunity for pediatrics to serve as the leading edge of science-based innovation across the early childhood ecosystem has never been more compelling. In this article, we present a framework for leveraging the frontiers of scientific discovery to inform new strategies in pediatric practice and advocacy to protect all developing biological systems from the disruptive effects of excessive early adversity beyond providing information on child development for parents and enriched learning experiences for young children.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health