Chapter 3-Early Life.docx

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University of Guelph
Family Relations and Human Development
FRHD 3090
Michelle Preyde

Chapter 3 – Early Life INTRODUCTION  Poverty and social inequality adversely affect children‟s health and development in all countries, regardless of medical knowledge and the availability of health care, and regardless of cultural context  Commonly acknowledged that child health is of the greatest importance for the future health of a national, since today‟s children grow up to become the next generation of parents and workers, and because health in early life is the basis of health in adult life  Early life health has lifelong effects that result from the interaction of biological development and social and environmental circumstances PHYSICAL G ROWTH AND H EALTH IN E ARLY L IFE  Growth before birth has been argued to be vital to health in subsequent childhood and adult life because „Many tissues and organs are formed with regard to cell numbers at or shortly after birth. Most of postnatal growth is a consequence of the enlargement of pre-existing cells rather than the accretion of additional cells‟  Malnutrition at critical phases of development before birth „may permanently reduce the number of cells in particular organs‟  Wide range of adult life health outcomes is associated with poor growth in early life, including: cardiovascular and respiratory function; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; schizophrenia; psychological function and susceptibility to stress; coronary heart disease and diabetes; serum cholesterol early in adulthood; atopic disease; and breast cancer  Low weight at birth is a consequence of poor delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the fetus, a delivery which is related to the mother‟s health and environment, and her access to appropriate foods and exposure to risk factors during the pregnancy o Likely to be associated with the mother‟s health and opportunity for growth as a child and adolescent is related to the fetal growth of her offspring through her development of risk of hypertension and of raised body mass  Socially mediated factors that adversely affect growth before birth and in infancy include poverty, maternal smoking, excess alcohol intake, drug misuse, and poor and deficient diet of mothers and babies. Factors that affect the mother‟s health in pregnancy affect the child not only prenatally but also in the immediate postnatal environmental and infancy  Smoking and dietary knowledge and dietary availability affect the infant during the vital period of prepubertal growth o Evidence that poor growth at this stage in life, together with poor socio-economic circumstances, is associated with long-term risk to adult health o Poor infant feeding may have further adverse affects, for example on cognitive development and on respiratory health  Interaction between the social environment and the child‟s physical endowment at birth may be the key to understanding the association between social circumstances and physical health and development in early life  Poor early life socio-economic circumstances are associated with a raised likelihood of subsequent poor educational attainment, poor health-related habits, poor diet in adulthood, low income, and overweight and obesity  Some adverse circumstances in early life, such as infection, to push the organism, made vulnerable by adverse by adverse early life exposures or development, into ill health  Adverse effects of poor growth in early life may not be inevitable if, after infancy, the accumulation of risk does not continue, either in socio economic circumstances in childhood. Parental upward social mobility has been shown to be associated with height growth and cognitive function scores that are better than those in children who began in the same social circumstances and remain in them, and higher socio economic status of parents is associated with better infant catch up growth after poor birth weight o Evidence that nutrition cannot only promote growth but also protective against childhood illness that comprises adverse long-term risk, such as infant pulmonary disease and of cognitive function  Poor socio-economic environment in early life increases risks to health through the interaction of adverse environmental influences with developmental processes. Poor environment is associated with poor maternal diet, smoking, alcohol abuse, and raised risk of infection in the mother during the prenatal period, and also attainment and low literacy will further increase risk and help to perpetuate their effects  In countries experiencing war and civil unrest or large-scale epidemics, all these kinds of risks are greatly increased TEMPERAMENT AND B EHAVIOUR IN EARLY LIFE  Early life adverse influences of poor social circumstances that act on physical and cognitive development in the long term, affect also temperament and behaviour o Evidence that maltreatment in childhood, in form of emotionally inconsistent, disturbing and, in particular, abusive punitive parenting, are risks for later antisocial behaviour problems, conduct disorders, and antisocial personality  Emotional disturbance in the family is long-term risk for mental health, particularly depression in women. Adverse childhood emotional circumstances because of poor relationships between parents are raised for suicidal thoughts and suicidal behaviour in adolescence and early adulthood  Poor maternal education, combined with teen motherhood, is associated with raised risk of oppositional problems and aggression, poor educational attainment in the child, raised risk of substance abuse, mental health problems, and antisocial behaviour for child abuse o Low parental self-esteem may be raised risk for child abuse. Childhood experiences of extremely stressful environment, e.g. domestic violence, associated with raised risk to brain development  Early signs of poorly controlled temperament and behaviour associated with adult problems of mental health and behaviour, including depression, social isolation, and substance dependence, with consequential adverse effects on work and personal relationships  Poor mothering and poor physical care, overcrowding, welfare dependence, and family emotional instability are risks for adult depressive disorder, particularly for depression in women in early adulthood, and cumulative process associated also with suicidal ideation and behaviour in late adolescence and early adulthood  Psychological explanations suggest that childhood psychological and physical insults may damage emotional regulation, attachment security, quality of relationships with others, and concept of self-worth o Concept of a sensitive period, at ages 6-8 months, when children must develop their core attachment to their parents; and between 12-13 months is sensitive stage for intellectual and linguistic development  Disruption of these processes at sensitive periods, as well as at later times in childhood, may be long- term source of risk because child acquires maladaptive response style which affects earning and response to others  Psychosocial explanations propose that response style to adverse experience may reduce child‟s self-esteem and self- control, and have consequent risks to social attainment and status at later ages in terms of education and employment, personal relationships, and coping with adverse life events o Puberty – observed increase in depression and anxiety in girls is greater than in boys, perhaps because as social and sexual roles develop during adolescence, self-evaluation tends to be low in those who have suffered emotional damage earlier in life – may initiate social vulnerability that is manifest in such risks as raised likelihood or early pregnancy, with consequent raised risk of poor interpersonal relations and lower educational attainment, lower occupational prospects, and greater risk of depressive illness  Social explanations suggest that poor emotional self-management, low educational attainment, and higher risk of unemployment have adverse effects on own socio-economic attainment, self-esteem, and life chances  Biological explanations include possible adaptation of emotional response style to deal with unbearable emotional pressure experienced during the developmental period, since adaptation may be detectable in alter psycho- physiological responses to stress and in adult immune response  Developing child‟s adaptation to social environment is likely to be process of accommodation of temperament and physical capability to the demands of context  Consequences, at the societal levels, of poor mental health in childhood, particularly poor mental health associated with war and epidemics, have not yet, to our knowledge, been systematically and extensively investigated THE SOCIAL C ONTEXT  Increasing societal affluence is associated with positive health changes  Study of the height of Norwegian military conscripts between 1921 and 1
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