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Project Title:

Applying Neurobiological and Socio-behavioral Sciences from Prenatal through Early Childhood Development: A Health Equity Approach
PIN: HMD-BPH-18-04        

Major Unit:

Health and Medicine Division
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Sub Unit: Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice
Board on Children, Youth, and Families

RSO: Geller, Amy

Subject/Focus Area: Behavioral and Social Sciences; Education; Environment and Environmental Studies; Health and Medicine

Project Scope
Neurobiological and socio-behavioral research indicate that early life conditions, including social supports (e.g., supportive relationships) and adversity (e.g., chronic stress), shape prenatal and early childhood development. These exposures unfold through the social determinants of health (e.g., education, housing, physical and social environment, etc.). Programs and policies designed to mitigate these adverse conditions, however, have not always had the positive effects intended for the majority of recipients of these programs.  Scientific evidence can be used more effectively to understand subgroup differences in response to early life conditions and to better inform efforts to advance health equity through policy actions, program development, practice changes, systems reform, and research. 

Building on the science base described in the 2000 NRC* and IOM* report From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development and the concepts in the 2017 NASEM* report Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity, and drawing upon new insights from 21st century science in the neurobiological and socio-behavioral fields in the prenatal to early childhood period, an ad hoc committee will:

1. Provide a brief overview of:

-The key stressors that affect brain development and health outcomes during this period (e.g., structural inequities, income, housing, employment, access to health care, transportation, and others).
-The biological and environmental factors that lead to disparities in health and disease outcomes for subgroups of individuals, and the pathways by which biological factors interact with and are influenced by sociocultural factors. 

2. Identify promising models and opportunities for translation of the science to action and the intervention points during the prenatal and early childhood periods that will yield the greatest impact with a focus on practice-based changes and the goal of facilitating broader systems change and alignment based on the science. The committee will draw from international examples as appropriate.

3. Identify the specific outcome measures needed to enable subgroup analyses based on the biological dynamics of the social determinants of health, and identify methods to continuously collect data on both successes and failures to enhance the knowledge base in the future.

4. Based on its review of the evidence and committee expertise, develop a roadmap to systematically apply the science to inform tailored interventions (i.e., policies, programs, or system changes) based on biological, social, environmental, economic, and cultural needs. The roadmap will identify pathways to implement the science in practice and policy. 

5. Provide recommendations in the areas above as well as recommendations on how systems can better align to advance health equity and identify specific research needs, as deemed appropriate based on its review of the evidence and its collective expertise.

*NRC = National Research Council; IOM = Institute of Medicine; NASEM = National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The project is sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The approximate start date for the project is April, 2018.
A report will be issued at the end of the project in approximately 18 months.

Project Duration: 18 months    

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Committee Membership
Committee Membership

 Meeting 1 - 05/31/2018
 Meeting 2 - 08/06/2018


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