by NICHQ President and CEO Scott D. Berns, MD, MPH, FAAP
During the early years of life, a baby’s brain grows at its most rapid rate, doubling in size in the first year and nearly reaching its full size by age three. And if you think that is rapid growth, imagine that the brain gains a third of its size in the last five weeks of pregnancy!
This period of rapid development—both in terms of size and complexity—lays the foundation for children’s future success at school; it prepares them to read and write, form friendships, and discover their strengths.
Not all children have an equal chance to achieve healthy brain development though. There are large gaps in kindergarten readiness among children living in poverty whose families have less resources, and approximately six out of 10 children across the U.S. start kindergarten not ready to learn. Addressing those disparities means recognizing that, from the earliest moments of life, children’s health and development is entirely dependent on their families. It means seeking solutions that address the health and well-being of both caregiver and child, rather than looking at the two separately.
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