Health in the earliest years — beginning with the future mother’s well-being before she becomes pregnant — strengthens developing biological systems that enable children to thrive and grow up to be healthy adults. Positive early experiences provide children with a foundation for building sturdy brain architecture.
The Three Foundations of Lifelong Health
Extensive scientific research has identified three basic foundations of lifelong health that are laid down in early childhood.
- A stable and responsive environment of relationships. These provide young children with consistent, nurturing, and protective interactions with adults, which help them develop adaptive capacities that promote learning and well-regulated stress response systems.
- Safe and supportive physical, chemical, and built environments. These provide children with places that are free from toxins and fear, allow active and safe exploration, and offer their families opportunities to exercise and form social connections.
- Sound and appropriate nutrition. This includes health-promoting food intake and eating habits, beginning with the future mother’s preconception nutritional status.