Texas Children’s Hospital releases recommendations to improve early childhood brain development

HOUSTON – April 13, 2016 – The Center for Child Health Policy and Advocacy at Texas Children's Hospital is excited to share the findings of a review conducted to identify evidence-based interventions to improve early childhood brain development. Funded by the Episcopal Health Foundation, this white paper summarizes the prenatal, social and physical factors that impact brain development. Visit the website to read the full white paper or learn more about The Center for Child Health Policy and Advocacy at Texas Children’s.

This paper also explores strategies for implementing interventions and guiding investments that will improve early child development and inform policy initiatives. The authors reviewed existing scientific literature and conducted interviews with experts in early childhood development, locally and nationally, with a focus on the first three years of life. Building upon this data, the authors present a framework to shape recommendations for early child development research, practice, interventions and public policy. 

“Increasingly, stakeholders from diverse sectors acknowledge there is a window of opportunity early in life in which the brain is particularly susceptible to effective interventions with long-term benefits,” said Dr. Jean Raphael, founding director of the Center at Texas Children’s. “The fundamental question for stakeholders is how best to allocate limited resources to produce transformative, yet sustainable changes.”

 The research found that numerous evidence-based interventions aimed at improving early childhood development already exist and the authors determined implementation into real-world settings should be the focus of efforts. The data garnered in the review suggests an emphasis should be placed on programs that center on prevention and nurturing of the parent-child relationship. 

The authors conclude that while evidence-based preventative interventions exist, a significant dilemma lies in their implementation due to the limitations of philanthropic support. As a result, one recommendation from the white paper is for foundations to pursue multi-pronged strategies that effectively bridge research, community programming and policy in order to ensure sustainability over time. In order to maximize impact, foundations should also seek to pool resources with other foundations similarly invested in improving early child development. The full paper may be accessed for additional recommendations and findings.

Authored by Dr. Quianta Moore, a scholar in health policy at the Baker Institute and adjunct assistant professor in Baylor’s Department of Pediatrics; Dr. Claire Bocchini, assistant professor in Baylor’s Department of Pediatrics-Infectious Diseases; and Dr. Jean Raphael, associate professor in Baylor’s Department of Pediatrics-General Pediatrics, this is the first white paper produced by the Center for Child Health Policy and Advocacy at Texas Children’s, a multidisciplinary collaboration of experts representing health services research, public policy, health law, sociology and economics. 

About Texas Children’s Hospital

Texas Children’s Hospital, a not-for-profit health care organization, is committed to creating a healthier future for children and women throughout the global community by leading in patient care, education and research. Consistently ranked as the best children’s hospital in Texas, and among the top in the nation, Texas Children’s has garnered widespread recognition for its expertise and breakthroughs in pediatric and women’s health. The hospital includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; the Feigin Center for pediatric research; Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; Texas Children’s Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston; and Texas Children’s Hospital The Woodlands, a second community hospital planned to open in 2017. The organization also created the nation’s first HMO for children, has the largest pediatric primary care network in the country and a global health program that’s channeling care to children and women all over the world. Texas Children’s Hospital is affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine. For more information, go to www.texaschildrens.org. Get the latest news by visiting the online newsroom and Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.

Media Contact 
Jenn Jacome