The emerging health paradigm in the 21st century: the formative first 1000 days of life
AbstractDuring the 20th Century Western society's thinking regarding health and wellbeing underwent profound and rapid changes. Towards the end of the century, a health paradigm based on social health determinants emerged, providing a strong foundation for influencing priorities in global health. In this paper we will present evidence that supports a new paradigm. It avers that human health and development is founded on infants’ brain architecture and their capacity to transform the brains and lives of adults. Neuroscience now shows how the brain architecture of the person becomes established during the intrauterine period and the first two to three years of life. This brain architecture determines the capacity of the organism to self-regulate its biological, emotional, cognitive, and interactional processes with the environment. The more robust this brain architecture, the more potential and capability that individual has to enjoy physical, emotional, and mental health as well as his/her capacity to contribute to the health and wellbeing of others. We hold that the transformative value of infants to society is biblical. This new understanding can generate a shift towards a focus on early infancy as the best strategy to foster development of healthy and sustainable societies.
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