The first 1000 days of life are the most important in a child’s development according to a new report published by Calderdale Council.
The Calderdale Public Health Annual Report 2016 focuses on the earliest stages of a child’s life, from conception to their second birthday, and explores how to make sure they thrive.
All Directors of Public Health in England have a duty to publish an annual report covering the state of health within their community. The ‘Foundations of Life – First 1000 Days’ provides an independent assessment of the state of health in Calderdale by Paul Butcher, Calderdale Council’s Director of Public Health.
While researching the report Calderdale Council’s Public Health team spoke to local parents and health professionals and analysed local health data.
Calderdale Council’s Director of Public Health, Paul Butcher said:
“We want to make sure that every child in Calderdale has the chance to live a long, happy and healthy life. The first 1000 days are critical because they provide the foundations for virtually every aspect of human development – it is almost impossible to underestimate the importance of this period in a child’s life.
“What happens during these days, which start with conception in the womb, has lifelong effects on many aspects of health – from obesity, heart disease and mental health to educational achievement and income.
“So it’s vital that we give the right support to parents, babies and toddlers, to make sure children in Calderdale have the very best start in life.
“The impact is arguably at least as great as the benefits we gain from investment in the traditional areas which stimulate economic growth such as the development of transport infrastructure, or in the skills and training programmes we offer to young people.”
The report analyses 13 areas which can have an impact on a child’s health in the very earliest stages of development, including teenage conceptions; low birth weight; infant mortality; smoking; breastfeeding; maternal obesity; relationships and poverty.
Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Inequalities, Cllr Faisal Shoukat said:
“I welcome this fascinating report which outlines the compelling evidence that investment in the first 1000 days of life brings lifelong prosperity and health, not just for our children, but also for society.
“By supporting our most disadvantaged families we can begin to tackle inequalities in our communities, making sure that all our children have a healthy future.
“The good news is that in Calderdale we have seen a reduction in infant mortality, smoking in pregnancy, the number of children who are overweight at age five and teenage pregnancy and we now have high levels of children receiving their vital vaccinations. We have also seen improvements in school readiness, which means that by the time our children start school they are ready to learn.
“However, there’s still more that we can do. The report includes 24 recommendations which the Health and Wellbeing Board will monitor and review throughout the year and we will also work towards establishing Calderdale as a child friendly borough.”
The full annual report: The Foundations of Life – First 1000 days is available to view at www.calderdale.gov.uk