The last decade has witnessed major reductions in child mortality and a focus on saving lives with key interventions targeting major causes of child deaths, such as neonatal deaths and those due to childhood diarrhea and pneumonia. With the transition to Sustainable Development Goals, the global health community is expanding child health initiatives to address not only the ongoing need for reduced mortality, but also to decrease morbidity and adverse exposures toward improving health and developmental outcomes. The relationship between adverse environmental exposures frequently associated with factors operating in the prepregnancy period and during fetal development is well established. Also well appreciated are the developmental impacts (both short- and long-term) associated with postnatal factors, such as immunostimulation and environmental enteropathy, and the additional risks posed by the confluence of factors related to malnutrition, poor living conditions, and the high burden of infections. This article provides our current thinking on the pathogenesis and risk factors for adverse developmental outcomes among young children, setting the scene for potential interventions that can ameliorate these adversities among families and children at risk.

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