Early Childhood Health Promotion

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Why are the early years so important for future health?

The physical, social, and emotional development of children has a direct influence on their overall development and on the adult they become. Pregnancy and the first years of life are one of the most important stages in the life cycle (Shribman & Billingham, 2009). At this stage, children must be taken care of so that they do not get infected by some of the common diseases that might otherwise derail or interfere with their growth. Immunization and vaccination programs are prevention measures that helps children grow into adults. Otherwise, such children risk suffering from conditions such as polio, a problem that they will carry into the future. It is also possible that food choices for children should be healthy. Otherwise, they will start developing either obesity or malnutrition. Either way, these two conditions can lead to problems that will affect the overall health of the child when they become adults. Studies indicate that the things parents or carers do with children at home, like talking to, reading to, and playing with then are keep predictors of future development and readiness for school (Teacher & Milton, 2011). It is no wonder that one of the expected outcomes of HCP is to prepare the child for school and improved learning.

What factors are seen to be important for the health of very young children?

There are several key factors that are vital for the health of very young children. These include but not limited to nutrition and exercise. In 1917, during a military recruitment exercise, it was discovered that 41 per cent of all the men that were called to service were not fit (Albon & Mukherji, 2008). Among the major factors that contributed to this, it was established, is poor nutrition. Children are supposed to feed on the right food substances for them to grow and develop. For instance, it is recommended that babies feed exclusively on breast milk for the first six months after being born. This is because the milk produced by the mother have all the necessary nutrients that the baby requires for growth, energy, and prevention against infections. For children at this age, under feeding will lead to malnutrition while overfeeding might lead to obesity. This is where exercise is important. Children need to exercise (the state of being playful) to help burn some of the excess carbohydrates in the body. Otherwise, these carbohydrates will condense into fats that will lead to obesity.

What is seen to be the role of early childhood services?

This also touches on the role of early childhood services. From the point of conceiving, mothers are advised to visit clinics regularly so that their health and that of the foetus can be assessed and monitored. Vaccination is another form of early childhood service that should be taken seriously because it is a preventive measure that helps children overcome diseases such as polio that might impure their physical conditions. Another service that is important is the provision of support systems for parents. This is because good parental mental health is significantly associated with good child development outcomes, particularly social, behavioural, and emotional development (Teacher & Milton, 2011). Therefore, parents are supposed to be provided with these services as well so that they can find it easy raising their children. The overall picture is to have healthy and productive adult members of the society and this is the stage that forms the foundation of the growth and development.

How is children's health promoted through the Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum?

The HCP also advocates for the availability of Early Years Foundation /stage Curriculum. The importance of this is that it lays the foundation for the education of the children. Children are slowly introduced into a world where there is a lot to learn and adapt. While physical health is important, the mental health of children is equally as important. I agree with the HCP on two fronts; first, is that it appreciates the fact that the health of a child plays an important role on the health of the adult the baby will turn into. Therefore, the HCP acts as a preventive measure making it possible for children to grow and develop healthy. Second is that it intends to provide parents with support systems that will help them provide a healthy environment for their children to grow in. Therefore, programmes such as the HCP should be encouraged around the world.

References

Albon, . D. & Mukherji, P., 2008. Food and Health in Early Childhood : A Holistic Approach,. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/londonmet/detail.action?docID=439147 ed. London: SAGE Publications,.

Shribman, S. & Billingham, K., 2009. Healthy Child Programme: Pregnancy and the first five years of life.. London: Crown Copyright.

Teacher, S. & Milton, A., 2011. Supporting Families in the Foundation Years. [Online]

Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/184868/DFE-01001-2011_supporting_families_in_the_foundation_years.pdf

[Accessed 12 December 2018].

Portfolio Task 2: ‘Fair Society, Healthy Lives’ Marmot Review 2010

According to the Marmot Review, what is the link between health and social inequality?

Today, 30 percent of children born in this world will suffer from malnutrition (Albon & Mukherji, 2008). One of the biggest causes behind this statistic is poverty around the world. Millions of families around the world are living in absolute poverty. According to the World Bank (2001), half of the world's population live on less than $ 2 a day. This is also evident when the comparison of the GDPs of a developed and a developing nation are compared. For instance, quoting the CIA (2007), Deborah and Mukherji state that while Luxembourg's GDP is $68800, that of Malawi is $600 (Albon & Mukherji, 2008). This gap between the poor and the rich can also be reflected in the health and wellbeing of children. This is because one of the consequences of poverty is poor health. Children are more vulnerable to health problems in areas where poverty is extreme. They lack basic food stuffs that are important for their growth and development. Mothers who are supposed to breastfeed also go hours or days without proper meals and therefore, toddlers have little or no breast milk. This is what creates the link between social inequality and health. Marmot et al (2010) argue that social inequality can have a significant effect on the health of a family or a community. Families that are well off financially will have better access to insurance covers, best medical services, and enough nutrition ( Marmot, et al., 2010). On the other hand, people living in poverty-stricken areas will find it hard to afford a meal leave alone proper medication.  

Looking at Policy Objective A (Marmot et al, 2010): What is the link between inequality and early child development?

As stated earlier, children below the age of five are the most vulnerable to the effects of poverty. At this stage, these children need proper nutrition for their growth and development. Giving every child the best start in life is crucial to reducing health inequalities across the life course ( Marmot, et al., 2010). This is because the foundation of every aspect of a human development, be it physical, intellectual, or emotional, depend heavily on the early childhood. Therefore, what happens to a child, both during and after pregnancy will affect how the adult life of the child. Dur to inequality, some people can afford proper medical services for their children as well as nutritious meals. On the other hand, people living in poverty find it difficult to access proper medical services and nutritious meals. The consequences of these are first, the mother is unable to produce enough milk for the baby forcing the mother to resort to alternative uninformed means of feeding their child. This could also lead to malnutrition. There are many areas especially in the developing nations where children are still suffering from conditions such as kwashiorkor. Therefore, inequality can directly be linked to growth and development of a child. For some wealthy people, it is not lack of food that is the problem the children are facing but excess food. In the current century, people are increasingly resorting to fast foods that have high content levels of sugars, fats, and salts. When children continuously feed on these types of food, they begin to develop conditions such as obesity and diabetes. 

What does the Marmot Review regard as the role of early childhood services in reducing inequality?

One of the many ways through which this inequality can be addressed is through the provision of early childhood services. For the UK government for instance, Sure Start and HCP are just examples of government initiatives in providing the populace with early childhood services. The importance of these services is that they try to breach the gap between the rich and the poor. Studies indicate that the poor are more vulnerable to inequalities and thus poverty. There is need to make these services affordable and accessible by all. Therefore, through these programmes, these services are brought closer to the people who are suffering most. Marmot et al (2010) argue that focusing solely on the most disadvantaged will not reduce health inequalities sufficiently. Rather, actions must be taken to reduce the steepness of the social gradient. these actions must be universal, with a scale and intensity that is proportionate to the level of the disadvantaged. This is referred to as universalism. Diversifying early childhood services is vital in this aspect. To understand how successful Marmot’s review has been in London, the best place to start is the London Health Observatory. According to data on this website, London’s infant mortality rate has decreased by over 2.6% between 2010 and 2018. Among the many factors that have attributed to this figure is efforts in place to address the issues of inequality.

References

Marmot, M. et al., 2010. Fair Society: Healthy Lives: The Strategic Review of Health Inequalities in England Post 2010. http://www.instituteofhealthequity.org/resources-reports/fair-society-healthy-lives-the-marmot-review/fair-society-healthy-lives-full-report-pdf.pdf ed. London: London University College.

Albon, . D. & Mukherji, P., 2008. Food and Health in Early Childhood : A Holistic Approach,. http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/londonmet/detail.action?docID=439147 ed. London: SAGE Publications,.

Portfolio Task 3: Eat Better, Start Better (2012)

 

The usefulness of the document for early childhood practitioners

As seen in the earlier tasks, early childhood is one of the most important stages of life. This is attributed to the fact that this stage forms the foundation for growth and development. A poor foundation will lead to an unstable life when the child become an adult. On the other hand, a good foundation will provide a basis upon which the child will grow into a healthy adult. One of the significant factors that are important in this stage is nutrition. With nutrition, there are two sides of the coin. On one side, feeding on less or non-nutritious foods may lead to malnutrition, thus an unhealthy baby. On the other hand, excessive consumption of these foods may lead to problems such as obesity and diabetes. Therefore, there is need to ensure that children in this stage of life are getting the right amount of nutrients for their growth and development (CFT, 2012). The balance should eliminate the possibilities of malnutrition and the chances of obesity. Therefore, this document, especially this chapter, lays down approaches that can be used to ensure that children are getting the right nutrients during their early development stages. Therefore, for early childhood practitioners, this document provides a datum upon which planning, comparisons, and implementation can be done. Moreover, it makes it easy for these practitioners to adopt the same concepts nationwide.

Did you learn anything new? e.g. portion size.

There are several lessons that can be taken from this document. For instance, it is required that children should have three portions of milk and dairy foods each day. These servings can be obtained from snacks and drinks. The document also discusses the estimated average requirement for energy where breakfast should contain 20%, mid-morning snack 10%, lunch 30%, mid-afternoon snack 10%, and tea 20% (CFT, 2012). At this point, it is important to note that when children feed on energy providing foods or drinks in excess, the excess food substances are converted into an adipose layer and will cause an increase in weight. In some instances, this might lead to overweight, obesity, and even diabetes.

 Why might this information be important?

This information is important in several ways. First, it lays down the framework for prevention of health complications both as a child and when the child becomes an adult (CFT, 2012). For instance, a good diet will prevent a child from suffering from either malnutrition or obesity. In the current century, medical practitioners are encouraging the populace to consider preventive measures to avoid some of these chronic complications. This includes feeding on a healthy and nutritious diets in proportions that are acceptable by the body. Secondly, this information is important because it informs the public. Armed with this information, parents can take care of their children without many obstacles. This information provides a guide for parents especially when they are shopping for food.

The document is intended as voluntary guidance. Stating that something is ‘voluntary’ as opposed to ‘statutory’ means that settings may choose not to follow the guidance, albeit that it is considered good practice. What do you think about this?

Even though the information in the document is vital to the growth and wellbeing of children, it is not a mandatory guideline. This means that nobody is compelled to follow the guideline provided. This is a good practice because it gives people a choice and therefore, parents will not feel like they have been compelled to follow it. Sometimes, some families may not be able to afford what the guidelines specify. Therefore, not making it a mandatory makes it flexible for medical practitioners giving them freedom not only to follow the guideline, but to make decision based on the situation presented.

Since childhood, I have known the mounts of food that I am supposed to take, and it slightly contradicts with the portions suggested in the book. For instance, my parents always made sure that we had heavy breakfast, less heavy lunch, and less heavy dinner. This ideally means among these meals, breakfast had the highest energy contents. This perhaps again explains why the contents of the document are not statutory, rather, optional for medical practitioners to consider. 

But the EYFS Statutory Framework of 2017 sets the standards for learning and care of children from birth to 5 years old (Staff, 2018). For instance, it is required that to count in the staff: child ratios at level 3 staff who hold an Early Years Educator qualification must also hold a level 2 English and mathematics qualification. Unlike the contents of the document in focus, this is a mandatory requirement by the law.

References

CFT, 2012. Children's Food Trust. Sheffield: Children's Food Trust.

Staff, 2018. EYFS Statutory Framework. [Online]

Available at: https://www.foundationyears.org.uk/eyfs-statutory-framework/

[Accessed 12 December 2018].

Portfolio Task 4: Health Promotion leaflet- dental decay.

For parents, taking care of children is a responsibility that should be taken seriously. In the previous tasks, there are several lessons that could be relevant to this section. First is that nutrition is one of the most important factors that should be in place for the effective growth and development of a child. However, we also learn that it is possible for a child who has access to food to suffer from either malnutrition or obesity. Malnutrition will result from the child not having all the necessary components required by the body while on the other hand, obesity will result from overfeeding (Dryden, et al., 2005). Moreover, in the current century, there is an increasing availability of fast foods, canned foods, and processed foods. A common feature for most of these foods are either excessive contents of fats, salts, or sugars and preservatives.

At an early age, children have milk teeth. Unlike the teeth of an adult, milk teeth are usually very delicate and prone to effects of excess sugars. This can lead to the baby having teeth complication either as a child or in adult life. For instance, decayed tooth causes severe pain for the child. This makes the child uncomfortable and he or she will spend most of the time crying out of pain. As such, parents will have a hard time trying to calm them down. unfortunately, when of the most effective ways of handling such a tooth is through taking out the tooth under general anesthetic (Naidoo & Wills, 2000). The problem with this is that while the baby will be growing into an adult and shedding off the milk teeth, it is possible that he or she will have crowded teeth.

But it is not necessary that decayed teeth should be taken out all the time. This brings us back to the importance of preventive measures early childhood services. It is important that children should be taken for regular checkups. This way, any teeth problem can be detected and handled in good time. Therefore, it is the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children are getting regular dental checkups. On the other hand, it is also the responsibility of the government and government agencies to make these services available and accessible both the poor and the rich. This will go a long way in preserving the dental structure of the baby into adulthood.

But parents can do more at home. For instance, they are encouraged to brush the teeth of their children at least twice a day. More importantly however, is to limit the amount of sugary foods the children consume. Children tend to love sweet things such as sweets and candy. The problem with these sugary food substances is that they have the potential to cause tooth decay. Through these preventive measures, parents will not have to spend their insurance funds or pocket funds on treating the baby's teeth problems. To help parents take care of their children in this regard, there are several campaigns in the media that are supposed to trigger the attention of the parents. Among them is the use of fear, in reference to the consequences of not taking care of the baby. When parents understand the consequences of taking preventive measures, they know that either the child will suffer, or they will have spent huge amounts of money on medications.

The use of fear as a motivation to help parents take care of their children dental problem might be effective. However, researchers recommend that several things must be in place. For instance, the level of fear aroused should not be too high to make it unlikely that the prescribed action alleviates the fear (Soames, 1988). Secondly, the prescribed action should eliminate the fear entirely.

The leaflet it spells out the consequences of ignoring teeth problems. The target audience are the parents and therefore, the leaflet will help parents make informed decisions. They will be prompted by the fear of facing the consequences of their baby having a decaying tooth. Sleepless nights, unsettled baby who is in pain, and medical expenditures are some of the consequences that parents fear and thus they will focus their energy on avoiding these consequences. Therefore, the campaign based on fear can be effective in this aspect. The leaflet has been written in a simple style and the choice of language is simple as well. This way, parents can know exactly what they are reading at a glance. 

References

Dryden, L., Forbes, R., Mukherjee, P. & Joshi, U., 2005. Essential Early Years . In: London: Hodder, pp. 34-40.

Naidoo, J. & Wills, J., 2000. Health Promotion. In: Foundations for Practice (Second edition) . London: Bailliere Tindall, pp. 163-167.

Soames, J. F., 1988. Effective and Innefective Use of Fear in Health Promotion Campaigns. American Journal of Public Health, 78(2), pp. 163-167.

August 14, 2023
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Health

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Child Development

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Development

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