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1001 Critical Days: Conception to Age Two

Wed 9 Sep 2015

1001 Critical Days Campaign

The 1001 Critical Days Cross-Party Manifesto was founded by Andrea Leadsom, Member of Parliament for South Northamptonshire to bring together for the first time politicans from across the political spectrum to acknowledge the importance of the 1001 critical days from when a baby is concieved until the age of two. It has support from Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer, Royal Colleges and over 100 leading child and family, health, education and social care organisations from across the UK who have built a strong coalition in recognition for the science behind the policy drive.

Why is the Conception to Age 2 period so critical?

Pregnancy, birth and the first 24 months can be tough for every mother and father, and some parents may find it hard to provide the care and attention their baby needs. But it can also be a chance to affect great change, as pregnancy and the birth of a baby is a critical window of opportunity when parents are especially receptive to offers of advice and support.

The evidence shows that:

  • Ensuring that the brain achieves its optimum development and nurturing during this peak period of growth is vitally important, as the foundations of the babies mind are being put into place.
  • From birth to age 18 months, it has been calculated that connections in the brain are created at a rate of a million per second! The earliest experiences shape a baby's brain deveelopment, and have a lifelong impact on that baby's mental and emotional health.
  • A pregnant mother suffering from stress can sometimes pass on the message to the unborn baby that the world will be dangerous, so that as a child he or she will struggle with many social and emotional problems. The child's response to experiences of fear or tension have been set to danger and high alert. This will also occur at anytime during the first 1001 days whenever a baby is exposed to overwhelming stress from any cause within the family, such as parental mental illness, maltreatment or eposure to domestic violence.
  • International studies show that when a baby's development falls behind the norm during the first years of life, it is more likley to fall even further behind in subsequent years, than to catch up with those that have had a better start.
  • Attachment is the name given to the bond a baby makes with its caregiver/s. there is longstanding evidence that a baby's social and emotional development is affected by their attachment to their parents.
  • Babies are disproportionatley vulnerable to abuse and neglect. In England they are seven times more likley to be killed than older children. Around 26% of babies (198,000) in the UK are estimated to be living within complex family situations, of heightened risk where there are problems such as substance misuse, mental illness or domestic violence. 36% of serious case reviews involve a baby under one.

Every child deserves an equal opportunity to lead a healthy and fufilling life, and with the right kind of early intervention, there is every opportunity for secure-parent relationships to be developed. Access a copy of the manifesto and its key recommendations below.

To pledge your support to the 1001 Critical Days Manifesto

© Parent Infant Partnership (PIP) UK 2016