- At birth, development shifts from genetic to environmental influences
- There are 100 billion neurons but they are not part of functional networks
- First few years are spent forming permanent neural networks -‘Neurons that fire together wire together’
- Social interaction determines brain development
He went on to discuss attachment theory giving the following quote:
“Infants develop the attachment behaviours that optimally enhance their survival in their own characteristic environments.”
He described the development of attachment as ‘Serve & return’ meaning that the infant will respond to positive rewarding stimuli by developing an attachment which strengthens with each return. However, if the return is absent, negative or chaotic this will set up responses in the child that help it to cope with this environment but which will probably prove maladaptive in the longer term. He illustrated this with reference to a study called the Dunedin cohort which was 1000 children recruited in late 1972/3. At age 3, “at risk” children were identified on the basis of chaotic circumstances, emotional behaviour, negativity and poor attentiveness
As adults, those “at risk” were more likely to : –
- be unemployed
- have criminal convictions (especially for violence)
- been pregnant as a teenager
- have a substance abuse problem
- exhibit signs of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome
The above means that the template for health can be set at a very young age, and though it is possible to change problems created by difficulties in the early years of life, a poor start can make it hard to catch up. This is the rationale for focusing on preventing health inequalities by focusing on the early years of life and support for parents.
You can view the full presentation on the social circumstances of health at this link
One thought on “Rationale For Support for the Start”
Good start. Look forward to seeing it develop and grow.
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