Extensive research has been conducted on the educational effects of early childhood health and nutrition interventions. The breadth and depth of this research allows for a number of general conclusions to be drawn. First, early childhood health and nutrition interventions have a consistently large impact on cognitive development. Second, health and nutrition interventions have the largest impacts for the preschool age group, but are also effective in older children. Third, early childhood health and nutrition interventions improve all aspects of school readiness, but greatest impacts are seen for motor development. Fourth, early childhood health and nutrition interventions promote equity. Fifth, the best evidence of educational benefits is found for feeding programs, iron supplementation and malaria prevention. Sixth, preschool education programs can be as effective as health and nutrition interventions in mitigating the educational impact of poor health and nutrition.
Early childhood health and nutrition interventions clearly have a major role to play in an expanding system of early childhood development programs and their efforts to achieve quality Education for All.
This article was written with support from the UNESCO Education for All Global Monitoring Report 2007. I would like to thank Don Bundy for valuable comments on earlier drafts of this chapter.
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