The importance of health in childhood

Mailén Agüero – Business Development Analyst
Francisco Stefano – Director

Health in the first years of life is a pillar for children’s correct development and growth.

Healthy development means that children of all abilities, including those with special needs, can grow up where their social, emotional, and educational needs are met.

All children have the right to survive and develop. However, many children and adolescents continue to face significant difficulties in surviving childhood and developing to their full potential.


In 2019, 6.1 million children and young adolescents died, the majority from preventable causes. Of those, 5.2 million were under the age of five, and almost half were newborn babies.

The health of children and adolescents is most at risk when they are in emergency settings or humanitarian shelters. In these circumstances, life-saving health services are often not available.

Globally, almost 40% of under-five deaths occurred in countries where there were humanitarian crises. It is estimated that between 2018 and 2050, 2 billion people will be born. Africa remains the only region in the world where a substantial increase in births is anticipated, which will have repercussions for health systems.

Mental health, traffic accidents and obesity are the most worrying in developed countries, according to the FAROS Report issued by the prestigious Sant Joan de Déu Hospital, Barcelona.

Some of the main conclusions of the report “Children’s health problems, trends in developed countries”, reveal a considerable decrease in infant mortality, but also a disturbing and growing increase in mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, behavior problems and hyperactivity in children between 10 and 14 years of age, although also at earlier ages, from 5 to 9 years of age.

Early experiences are embedded in our bodies, creating biological “memories” that shape development, for better or worse.

Stress and adverse early life events can have a lasting impact on children’s mental and physical health. Specifically, early life stress can contribute to developmental delays and poor health outcomes later in life. Abuse, family instability, unsafe neighborhoods, and poverty can cause children to have inadequate coping skills, difficulty regulating emotions, and reduced social functioning compared to other children their age.

Obesity due to behavioral disorders in the mental health of the individual is one of the most worrying sections, for example, one in ten Spanish children is obese. 

Additionally, exposure to environmental hazards, such as lead in the home, can negatively affect a child’s health and cause delays in cognitive development.

The socioeconomic status of young children’s families and communities also significantly affects their educational outcomes. Specifically, poverty has been shown to negatively influence the academic performance of young children. Research shows that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to repeat their grades and drop out of secondary school in their later years.

Children’s health goes beyond physical growth, it also includes their cognitive development (learning and thinking), social and emotional growth, and mental health. That is why it is important to ensure that they have access to all the necessary tools to develop and grow to integrate into society without any problems.

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