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December 17, 2003

Optimizing the Health and Development of Children

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities (Drs Halfon and Inkelas); National Center for Infant and Early Childhood Health Policy (Drs Halfon and Inkelas); Departments of Health Services (Dr Inkelas) and Community Health Sciences (Dr Halfon), UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, Calif.

JAMA. 2003;290(23):3136-3138. doi:10.1001/jama.290.23.3136

The progress that US society has made in health promotion is evident in the almost doubling of life expectancy in the 20th century, the compression of morbidity, and the increased functional capacity. Much of the improvement in health and functional ability at the end of life is influenced by what happens much earlier in life.1 The idea that health "develops" during childhood is evident from emerging studies tying early health and developmental potential to later educational attainment, disease burden, and disability.1,2 As innovative strategies focus on promoting "health for all," optimizing the healthy development of all children will require greater attention.2,3