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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Maryland: Professor Contributes to New NASEM Report on Improving Early Child Health

A new National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report released July 25, Vibrant and Healthy Kids: Aligning Science, Practice, and Policy to Advance Health Equity, applies neurobiological and socio-behavioral sciences to identify needed policy actions, program development, practice changes, systems reform and research priorities to eliminate early childhood health disparities advance health equity.

Dr. Natalie Slopen, an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, served on the 14-person expert committee that co-authored the comprehensive report. 

“We have a lot of science that has emerged in the last decade or so,” says Dr. Slopen, an expert on social influences on health and the psychological and biological mechanisms through which adverse childhood experiences are linked to later chronic diseases. “But it isn’t being fully implemented into policies in a way that could better support child health.” 

The committee’s report was supported through the National Academy of Medicine’s Culture of Health Program, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Its members hold expertise in areas including psychology, applied economics and health policy. 

To advance health equity from the prenatal period through early childhood (age 8), the report provides a roadmap to apply science to tailored interventions. It adds new scientific insights gained since the release of an earlier landmark National Academies report, From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development. Novel findings include “new discoveries about how both stress and positive experiences can alter one’s trajectory for healthy development,” says Dr. Slopen.

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