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Assuring the Healthy Development of Young Children: Opportunities for States

Recent advances in neuroscience have demonstrated that parent-child interactions and the family environment shape and advance the development of a young child's brain. At the same time, decisionmakers in health policy, child health research, and pediatric practice have begun to recognize the critical importance of the first three years of life for the optimal growth and development of children. National guidelines for pediatric care, such as Bright Futures, stress the delivery of health care in a manner consistent with this understanding of early development. In addition to good clinical health care, children age 3 and younger require services that promote cognitive and sensory stimulation. A growing body of literature suggests that family behavior and activities can have a profound impact on a child's brain development, physical health, and emotional well-being.

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Assuring the Healthy Development of Young Children: Opportunities for States, Peter Budetti, Carolyn Berry, Pamela Butler,Karen Scott Collins, and Melinda Abrams, The Commonwealth Fund, February 2000