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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
Health Resources and Services Administration
Maternal and Child Health

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MCH Life Course Resource Guide

The life course approach to conceptualizing health care needs and services evolved from research documenting the important role early life events play in shaping an individual’s health trajectory.  The interplay of risk and protective factors, such as socioeconomic status, toxic environmental exposures, health behaviors, stress, and nutrition, influence health throughout one’s lifetime. 

This emerging science on gene-environment interactions touches on several aspects of public health, including health disparities, fetal origins of adult disease, and outcomes related to prenatal and preconception health and health care.  Since introduced, life course has become a prominent framework for conceptualizing health, and scholars and practitioners are exploring application to MCH practice.

Overview

Rethinking MCH: The Life Course Model as an Organizing Framework (PDF - 20 pages)
This paper clarifies and synthesizes the current thinking on MCH life course and provides a series of examples for how a life course perspective might be incorporated into MCH research, programs, policies, and partnerships to optimize health outcomes and reduce disparities across the population.

Moving from Theory to Practice 
Orientation to the life course approach from the perspectives of three well-known practitioners: a pediatrician and professor, an esteemed researcher and public health expert, and an activist-advocate-attorney-author. Webcast with video, slides and transcript.

Life Course Perspective
Life course proponent, researcher and public health expert Milton Kotelchuck, PhD, MPH, explores the development and implementation of the MCH Life Course and the MCH field and relates how the life course paradigm should influence needs assessments. Webcast with video and transcript.

Life Course Health Development Model
Introduction to the Life Course Health Development model and its implications and applications  for measurement, for intervention, organization of services and policy development. Webcast with video and transcript. 

The Intersection of Life Course, Health Equity and Social Determinants of Health: Translation to Action
Foundation of ideas to build upon, focusing on the intersection of social determinants, life course, health disparities,  the interventions that address them, and implications for implications for infant mortality reduction and policy. Keynote presentation and panel discussion. Webcast with video, slides and transcript.

Defining Life Course

Life Course looks at health as an integrated continuum and suggests that a complex interplay of biological, behavioral, psychological, social, and environmental factors contribute to health outcomes across the course of a person's life. It builds on recent social science and public health literature that posits that each life stage influences the next and that social, economic, and physical environments interacting across the life course have a profound impact on individual and community health.

Maternal and Child Health Training Program.