The First 1,000 Days: A Window of Opportunity for a Brighter Future for Children

Optimizing federal programs and policies can improve nutritional outcomes in the 1,000-day window—a vital period of development for children

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The infant and maternal mortality rates in the US are among the highest of any wealthy country, with glaring racial and ethnic disparities. There is significant room to develop a unifying plan for the right policies and systems to improve nutritional security and well-being for vulnerable families. As part of a special series, sponsored by 1,000 Days of FHI Solutions, that will appear in American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) on October 26, 2022. The full series will present the state of science, research needs, and a policy agenda for optimal maternal and child nutrition in the US.

As part of the series, an essay by Dr. Heather Hamner—a health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—reveals numerous gaps between the dietary intake of pregnant people, infants, and toddlers and the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 20202025, with race and ethnicity disparities persisting across the spectrum.

How do we set about addressing these nutritional deficits? The essay states, “Advancing efforts related to research and surveillance, programs and communication, and dissemination could help positively, and equitably, influence the health and well-being of mothers and children.” It also outlines a framework by which current federal policies and programs can be strengthened and how access to and participation in programs can be improved.

Another paper in the collection, authored by Blythe Thomas, Initiative Director of 1,000 Days, an initiative of FHI Solutions, points out that a plan that unifies maternal and early childhood nutrition policy and systems has eluded implementation in the US. “Achieving nutrition security during the first 1000 days will ultimately require multisector collaboration, advocacy, and action to fully support families where they live, learn, work, play, and gather,” says Thomas, in her editorial.

A third paper in the collection—authored by Dr. Kofi Essel, community pediatrician, Children’s’ National Hospital, discusses the limited focus on nutrition-related medical education as a significant constraint on the ability of pediatricians to deliver sound feeding and nutritional guidance during the first 1,000 days. According to Dr. Essel, “This shift requires a collective effort that activates pediatricians to work in cross-sector collaboratives to influence change alongside industry, researchers, and even early childhood educators.

Thus, this journal series brings together papers on these topics during pregnancy, birth, the postpartum period, and early childhood for the US population.

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  1. Heather C. Hamner, PhD, MS, MPH, Jennifer M. Nelson, MD, MPH, Andrea J. Sharma, PhD, MPH, Maria Elena D. Jefferds, PhD, Carrie Dooyema, MPH, MSN, RN, Rafael Flores-Ayala, DrPH, MApStat, Andrew A. Bremer, MD, PhD, Ashley J. Vargas, PhD, MPH, RDN, Kellie O. Casavale, PhD, RD, Janet M. de Jesus, MS, RD, Eve E. Stoody, PhD, Kelley S. Scanlon, PhD, RD, and Cria G. Perrine, PhD
  2. Blythe Thomas, BS
  3. Kofi Essel, MD, MPH

Titles of original papers

  1. Improving Nutrition in the First 1000 Days in the United States: A Federal Perspective
  2. From Evidence to Action: Uniting Around Nutrition in the 1000-Day Window
  3. The First 1000 Days—A Missed Opportunity for Pediatricians

Journal: American Journal of Public Health

DOI links:


Blythe Thomas
[email protected]

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SOURCE 1,000 Days

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