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The Effects Of Early Care And Education On Children’s Health

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posted by Research Admin 1 on 29 May 2019

Health Policy Brief, US Health Affairs, April, 2019

This policy brief discusses the importance of early childhood education on improved health outcomes.

"A growing body of research indicates that early child care and education may lead to improvements in short- and long-term health-related outcomes for children. 

KEY POINTS

  • Most children in the US attend early care and education (ECE) such as public or private preschool, child care centers, or Head Start before entering kindergarten. High-quality ECE programs can promote positive educational, social-emotional, and behavioral outcomes.
  • Intensive, high-quality, model ECE programs, such as Abecedarian and the Infant Health and Development Program, have strong, lasting health benefits, including improved cardiovascular and metabolic health and reduced smoking. Less intensive, at-scale ECE programs—particularly those with health components (for example, nutrition, screenings, and links to health insurance) such as Head Start—also show health benefits for participants, including higher immunization, screening, and identification rates; improved mental health; and reduced smoking. However, the initial entrance into group care and education settings has short-term negative effects on the incidence of communicable diseases. »
  • Investments in ECE programs, particularly those with health components, may provide lasting health benefits for participants.
  • There is a need for additional research on the effects of contemporary public and private early childhood programs on children’s health and the mechanisms underlying these effects.