Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

Investing in early childhood development essential to helping more children and communities thrive, new Lancet Series finds

An estimated 43%, 249 million, of children under 5 in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) are at an elevated risk of poor development due to extreme poverty and stunting, according to findings from The Lancet’s new Series, "Advancing Early Childhood Development: from Science to Scale".

A father holds his young child.
WHO/D Rodriguez

The Series reveals that early childhood development interventions that promote nurturing care, health, nutrition, responsive caregiving, security and safety, and early learning, may cost as little as 50 US cents per child per year, when combined with existing services such as health. WHO, the World Bank, and UNICEF contributed to and offered guidance to the Series.

The findings in this Series underscore the importance of increased global commitment to early childhood development. Individuals are estimated to suffer a loss of about a quarter of average adult income per year, while countries may forfeit up to as much as 2 times their current GDP expenditures on health or education. Consequences of inaction impact not only present but future generations.