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TitlePublic Health Pbl
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Total Pages18
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Page 18

THE LIFE COURSE

PRE-BIRTH
Antenatal care is a key determinant of material health, but by extension, has a profound
impact on the subsequent health of the baby.

Pre-birth maternal nutrition can play and important role and observations have been made
that demonstrate babies subjected to certain factors in-utero resulting in low birth weight
seemed to be ‘programmed’ to develop hypertension and diabetes in adult life (BARKER
HYPOTHESIS)

Smoking during pregnancy is a significant risk factor, the main impact of which is through
lower birth weight. Smoking also compromises the childs neurological development during
pregnancy. Alcohol also presents risks (FAS) due to its ability to cross the placenta.

EARLY YEARS
Attachment theory – suggests that early attachment of the child to a principal carer is crucial
to correct neurological, social, and emotional development. Failure of attachment can have
far reaching effects on behaviors such as violence and the development of emotional
intelligence – necessitates the need for good parenting and the provision of a home
environment that is safe and promotes all aspects of the child’s development.

Nutrition is also a key component – beginning with breast feeding and then evolving into a
healthy age-specific diet.

Critical periods are a phase in the life span during which an organism has heightened
sensitivity to exogenous stimuli that are compulsory for the development of a particular skill.
If an individual does not receive a stimulus during the time of this critical period, it may be
difficult, ultimately unsuccessful, or impossible, to develop some functions in later life.

Critical windows are seen for the acquisition of language, and the development of vision and
auditory processing. – E.g. seen in feral children

ADOLESCENCE
Many health related behaviors are influenced by risk-taking patterns during this phase of
development. Adolescence is a bio-psycho-social phenomenon

ADULT LIFE
All determinants of health and socioeconomic gradient by this time interact with the factors
from earlier in the life course to create and destroy health. Working aged adults are
influenced by their social position and relationship status.

Late middle life sees the emergence of chronic disease and the need to develop and/ or
maintain functional capacity in the face of continuing disease. Health status is therefore
influenced by the interaction and accumulation of determinants of health over the life
course.

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