Authors: Carol Levin, Elizabeth Brouwer
Significant reductions in child and maternal mortality have been achieved worldwide in the past two decades. However, recent surveys in Lancet also indicate that currently about 200 million children under five years of age in developing countries fail to reach their full cognitive developmental potential. This creates a vicious cycle whereby poverty increases the risk factors related to neonatal, child and maternal health during the First 1000 days, which have long-lasting effects on cognitive development, socioemotional skills, executive function/self-regulation and physical health, all of which affect productivity in adulthood.
Preventing exposure to, and effect of, these risk factors in the First 1000 Days has the potential to increase the productive wealth embodied in individuals’ intellectual, social and physical capabilities. There is increasing evidence that reducing the four risk factors in the First 1000 Days of life has substantial impacts on child cognitive, socioemotional and physical development – and on outcomes over the life cycle. However, not only impacts but also costs of interventions must be considered. Most of the literature has focused on impacts, with little or no attention to costs. A visible exception is the Copenhagen Consensus, which has promoted developing benefitcost ratios based on the best available scientific evidence to compare a wide range of projects.
Levin, Carol and Elizabeth Brouwer. 2014. "Saving Brains: Literature review of reproductive, neonatal, child and maternal health and nutrition Interventions to mitigate basic risk factors to promote child development." GCC Working Paper Series, GCC 14-08. http://repository.upenn.edu/gcc_economic_returns/17/