Pediatric Health Promotion Plan
Early childhood health promotion aims to keep children healthy by focusing on early interventions and implementing programs for the very young. Early childhood is defined by Healthy People 2020 as the period from birth to age 8, highlighting that this critical stage is marked by some of the most significant growth and development for an individual. A child’s early years lay the groundwork for future physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development.
Various factors influence children’s health and well-being, including family characteristics, community dynamics, and other social determinants of health (SDOH). These include the systems, policies, and environments in which children are born and grow up. For more information and definitions of SDOH and health disparities that populations face that impact health and well-being, please visit the SDOH website.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, programs that focus on influencing and changing certain health behaviors and outcomes at a young age can significantly impact health outcomes later in life. Some of these programs concentrate on the following:
Obesity in children, particularly programs in early childhood education settings
Nutrition and healthy eating options
Childhood chronic disease
Beneficial sleeping habits
Access to age-appropriate developmental, hearing, and vision screening tests
Prevention of childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
Models and frameworks for health promotion and disease prevention can assist rural communities in implementing early childhood health promotion strategies. Health promotion models describe various factors that interact to produce behaviors that can influence health outcomes. Several frameworks may be used by programs to help meet the needs of rural communities and address health outcomes. The following are some examples from the Rural Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Toolkit:
The Stages of Change Model for Health Beliefs (Transtheoretical Model)
Theory of Reasoned Action/Planned Behavior Social Cognitive Theory Life Course Model of Health
The American Academy of Pediatrics also created and adapted a model of health and disease that demonstrates how the social and physical environments interact with children’s biology to influence how they develop. These interactions influence both behaviors and health outcomes. This model is based on numerous research studies showing that many adult diseases result from childhood issues. Poverty and exposure to negative experiences and stressors as a child can have long-term effects on the body and indirectly on health behaviors. Poverty is more prevalent in rural areas, and poor children are more likely to have negative health outcomes such as obesity.
The Life Course Framework and life course health development models demonstrate how the environment, biology, and behaviors of parents and children interact to influence health. According to the Life Course Framework, maternal and prenatal influences can impact health before a child is born, and early experiences can have a long-term impact. Several key elements are outlined by the researchers who created this framework:
Experiences that occur at several critical points during early childhood development significantly impact health outcomes.
These experiences have an impact on adult health and well-being over time.
Physical, environmental, and social influences on children and families can put their health and well-being at risk or serve as a shield against negative experiences.