Adolescent FPRH in the Life Cycle Approach to Early Childhood Development

The 1st Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) is to “ensure that all human beings can fulfill their potential in dignity and equality.” Literature over the past 10 years has shown evidence that circumstances impacting early childhood development have lasting impacts into adulthood for health and well-being. This illustrates why supporting early childhood development is integral to achieving the SDG #1. In recent a recent 3 article series in the Lancet, co-authored by 2 CEGA researchers (Lia Fernald & Paul Gertler, UC Berkeley), it is estimated that 250 million children under 5 years old in low & middle income countries (43%)  are at risk of not reaching their development potential (based on proxy measures for stunting and poverty).

In this series of papers the authors put forward a “multi-generational life course of development, health and well-being” model for the development of human capital (i.e. reaching one’s full potential).  While most interventions focused on improving human capital development start at conception, such as the emphasis on the first 1,000 days (starts at the date of conception), this circular “life course” model begins & ends with the adolescent pre-conception period.




Further, as you can see in the figure below (from Paper #2 in the series) interventions that can improve “nurturing care” for young children that impact their development “starts” with Family Planning for Adolescents.




Many times the argument for increasing provision of FPRH services to adolescents is to allow them to achieve their full potential. By looking at this multi-generational life course model, the impact of these FPRH services on her future children’s ability to reach his/her full potential becomes more salient.

This model illustrates the importance of understanding the behavioral biases that impact the take-up of FPRH services (especially for adolescents), but it serves also a reminder that it is just one piece of the puzzle for achieving SDG #1.

I would encourage you all to check out the full Lancet series, here.