10.3 Opportunities for early intervention

Black et al. (2017) estimated that about 250 million children worldwide fail to reach their developmental potential. Developmental delays become evident in the first year and worsen during early childhood. The burden of children not reaching their developmental potential is high.

Interventions aimed at improving child development work best when delivered at the sensitive periods. Programs are to be comprehensive, incorporating a combination of health, nutrition, security and safety, responsive caregiving and early learning. See Engle et al. (2011), Grantham‐McGregor et al. (2014) and Britto et al. (2017) for recent overviews and initiatives.

The lack of a universal measure for child development has long hampered the ability to estimate intervention effects or to compare populations. The D-score can be generalized to other instruments. We expect that the availability of a common yardstick will stimulate informed policy and priority setting. We hope a universal measure improves decision making, ultimately lowering the number of children not reaching their developmental potential.