5196.1 Advancing maternal and child health through a life course approach: integrating social determinants of health and health equity

Wednesday, October 31, 2012: 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Life course theory (LCT) is a conceptual framework that helps explain health and disease patterns – particularly health disparities – across populations and over time. Instead of focusing on differences in health patterns one disease or condition at a time, LCT points to broad social, economic and environmental factors as underlying causes of persistent inequalities in health for a wide range of diseases and conditions across population groups. The importance of a life course approach in healthcare is based on evidence that demonstrates the influence of early childhood events and circumstances on an individual’s health throughout their life. Additional studies indicate that there is a cumulative effect of environmental stressors on health over time. Thus, underlying this approach is the assumption that health is the result of the interaction of biological, environmental, behavioral, psychological, social, and economic contributors that do not only have an immediate but a long-lasting effect on health. Appling the life course approach to maternal and child health enables us to look at health as an integrated continuum throughout life and not as independent stages of life. LCT is population focused, and firmly rooted in an understanding of the influence social determinants and social equity models. While LCT has developed in large part from efforts to understand and address disparities in health and disease patterns, it is also applied more universally to understand factors that can help everyone attain optimal health and developmental trajectories over a lifetime and across generations. For the field of Maternal and Child Health, LCT addresses two separate but related questions: Why do health disparities persist across population groups, even in instances where there has been significant improvement in incidence, prevalence and mortality rates for a specific disease or condition across all groups? And, what are the risk and/or protective factors that influence the capacity of individuals or populations to reach their full potential for health and well-being?
Session Objectives: Explain the concept of life course Describe about the contributions of life social determinants throughout life to pregnancy outcomes Discuss the importance of life course approach in improving pregnancy outcomes Discuss approaches to implementing a life course approach in public health settings
Hani Atrash, MD, MPH and Kay Johnson, MPH, EdM
Cheri Pies, MSW, DrPH

See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.

Organized by: Maternal and Child Health
Endorsed by: Socialist Caucus, Women's Caucus, APHA-Committee on Women's Rights

CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH)