Ann Weber: Review of early childhood development programs in Africa

Ann Weber

Title

Review of Early Childhood Development Programs in Africa

Mentor

Ann Weber

Department

Public Health

Bio sketch

Public health has made enormous progress in reducing infant and child mortality worldwide, but is falling short of ensuring that those children who survive are able to thrive. The overarching goal of my research is to reduce disparities in the health of women, adolescents and children that arise in situations of poverty, inadequate education, and inequality globally. As such, much of my work has focused on testing the effectiveness of programs aimed at improving pregnancy outcomes, maternal health, and child health, growth and development in low-income settings.

Project overview

Did you know that by age 3 years, a child’s brain is about 80% of adult size and nearly full grown by 5? During these first years, a child’s environment and daily experiences, such as the quality of care, stimulation and interaction they receive, influence their brain development, with long-term consequences to their future academic and economic success. Unfortunately, millions of children in low- and middle-income countries are failing to achieve their developmental potential due to the combined effects of poverty, malnutrition, and lack of cognitive stimulation. As a result, local leaders are urged to implement programs that target parenting behaviors and practices with very young children with the aim of promoting optimal brain development. However, these programs are often based on scientific research from high-income countries and may fail to consider the importance of existing caregiving practices and beliefs in non-Western and low-income settings. For this project, students will be engaged in reviewing the literature from studies of parenting programs implemented in Africa, extracting information on the design, content, and impact of programs, and summarizing their findings.