Presentation on theme: "Building Brains and Futures: One Connection at a Time"— Presentation transcript:
1Building Brains and Futures: One Connection at a Time Robbin GibbLaVonne Rideout
2Nature/ NurtureNo longer a debateEnvironment leaves its mark on our genome and can modulate future gene expression in a sometimes heritable fashionThe study of how environment leaves its footprint on the genome falls into the domain of EpigeneticsHarry Harlow -early work on surrogate mothers
3It was long believed that DNA methylation is fixed and irreversible Each gene contains a unique set of instructions that is carried out if endorsed (signed) bythe environment. This is what is known as the “signature effect”The programming of the genome is controlled by the epigenomeThe epigenome is composed of two components:1) the chromatin which is associated with the DNA and2) DNA methylation which is part of the covalent structure of the genome and is therefore a stable long-term signalIt was long believed that DNA methylation is fixed and irreversible
4Brain and Human Development Nature NurtureGenes Epigenetics Stimulation& NutritionGene FunctionNeurobiologicalPathwaysPhysical Mental Behaviour Learning &Health Health Cognition
6Building Better Brains The process of building a healthy brainis influenced by a wide range offactors, particularly the first 2000 days from conception- A strong foundationProtection from toxic stressStrong “air traffic control” SkillsSERVE AND RETURN*
7Top Three Factors to Promote Brain Development 1. Attachment & Relationships (SERVE & RETURN)2. Build EF (AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL)3. Manage Stress (AVOID TOXIC STRESS)
8By Stanley Greenspan and Terry Brazelton Identify 7 NEEDS of children The Irreducible Needs of Children: What Every Child Must Have to Grow, Learn, and FlourishBy Stanley Greenspan and Terry BrazeltonIdentify 7 NEEDS of childrenPhysical protection, safety, regulationExperiences tailored to Individual differenceDevelopmentally appropriate experienceLimit setting, Structure, and ExpectationsStable, Supportive communities and Cultural continuityProtecting the future
9NUMBER 1 NEED?NEED FOR ONGOING, NURTURING RELATIONSHIPS
10Top Three Factors to Promote Brain Development 1. Attachment & Relationships (SERVE & RETURN)2. Build EF (AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL)3. Manage Stress (AVOID TOXIC STRESS)
11Success Requires: Creativity Flexibility Self-Control Discipline All of these qualities are “executive functions”supported by the PFC-EF’s are more important for school readinessthan IQ-EF’s are trainable as early as the first year of life
12Even small improvements in EF can translate into Children with worse self-control (EF) at ages 3-11 (stress, loneliness, not physically fit):Have worse health outcomesEarn lessCommit more crimes in the ensuing 30 years(studies controlled for IQ, Gender, and SES)Even small improvements in EF can translate intoimprovements in health, wealth, and lowercrime rate for a nation( Moffitt et al. PNAS 2011) .
13Top Three Factors to Promote Brain Development 1. Attachment & Relationships (SERVE & RETURN)2. Build EF (AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL)3. Manage Stress (AVOID TOXIC STRESS)
14Early Experience alters stress axis TOXIC STRESSPositive or TolerableSTRESSDevelopment of Stress ReactivityPrenatal Stress in lab animalsFrontal cortex - 20% smaller cells,deficits on spatial navigationdeficits in play behaviorOnce again, frontal lobe development can beprofoundly altered in ways that must interactwith later behavior…Modest Stress ReactivityReduced Risk for DiseaseIncreased Stress ReactivityIncreased Risk for Heart Disease, Type II Diabetes, Alcoholism, Affective Disorders, Brain Aging etc.
15Felletti : Turning Gold into Lead ACE (adverse childhood experience) study>17,000 middle aged adults in CaliforniaACE’s are more common than previously thought and have a powerful effect on mental and physical health later in lifeFrontal lobe development is particularly sensitive
16And what are Adverse Childhood Experiences ? Emotional abusePhysical abuseSexual abuseMother treated violentlyHousehold use of drugs or alcoholPresence of mental illnessParental Separation or DivorceIncarcerated household member
17OUTCOMES SCALE Positive Sturdy foundation Air traffic control NegativePositivePositiveSturdy foundationToxic stressAir traffic controlServe and Return
18Pay it forwardNeuroeconomists tell us that return on investment at this time of life ( preschool) is greater than at any other time in human developmentGenerations to come can benefit from early childhood investment such as this
19Two Key Ways to Make a Difference 1. Prevention- by providing children and families with support we can avoid many situations that undermine brain development2. Ingenuity- we can use our knowledge about brain development and learning to provide experience that will maximize learning in children
25Coalitions provide unique input 100 mobilized throughout Albertaestablished community boundaries in a province where there are no common boundariesprovided an equal voice at the table for all sectors in the communitycontributed to research and put the data to workSlide: Coalitions provide unique inputCoalitions played an instrumental role throughout the project. One of their first tasks was to define the geographic areas of their communities and map their boundaries. This was an enormously important task in Alberta where there are no common boundaries.Coalitions then built their membership base by inviting different sectors of the community on board. The idea was to provide an equal voice for all community members who wished to participate.Coalitions made an important contribution to the data that was collected, including identifying and mapping community resources. They also helped to interpret research results. Coalitions engaged non-profit service providers, government, businesses, school authorities and parents in responding to the data and planning for improved supports for their young children and families. In many communities, this marked the first time a broad cross-section of the community came together to directly address issues related to young children’s well-being.
26Slide: Who sits on coalitions This chart shows the ten sectors that are most frequently represented at coalition tables. The percentages on left hand side relate to the percentages of coalitions. The sectors that have been involved in coalitions the most are: health, schools, parents and community members, libraries, Parent Link centres, family support organizations, Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), early childhood development programs, child care centres and municipalities and towns.Sectors that have also been involved in coalitions and are not shown on this chart include literacy organizations, playschools, Child and Family Services (CFS), mental health, post-secondary institutions, elected officials, recreation programs and business.This represents a considerable investment of volunteer time to the community. Coalition members volunteer an estimated 40,000 hours per year in meeting time alone. This is a conservative estimate that does not include the time spent organizing community events or doing subcommittee work.Adapted from ECMap’s Final Report.
31Alberta falling behind the Canadian norm CanadaAlberta EDI results ( ), ECMapSlide: Alberta falls behind the Canadian normAs this bar graph shows, young children in Alberta are falling behind the Canadian norm.Nearly 29 per cent are experiencing great difficulty in one or more areas of development in Alberta compared to the Canadian norm of 25.4 per cent.14.7 per cent are experiencing great difficulty in two or more areas of development as compared to the Canadian norm of 12.4 per cent.An important thing to keep in mind when talking about the Canadian norm is that the norm does not set a goal that we should be striving for. The Canadian norm shows that more than one in four kindergarten-aged children in Canada – or more than 25 per cent - are struggling in their development.Great difficulty inONE or moreareas of developmentGreat difficulty inTWO or moreareas of development
33Alberta baseline results Less than half (46 per cent) are developing appropriately in all five areas of development.Nearly 29 per cent experience great difficulty in one or more areas and nearly 15 per cent experience great difficulty in two or more.This does not include children with diagnosed severe disabilities.Slide: Alberta baseline resultsBaseline results tell us that:Less than half — 46 per cent — of young children are developing appropriately in all five areas of development measured by the EDI.Nearly 29 per cent experience great difficulty in one or more areas of development, andNearly 15 per cent experience great difficulty in two or more areas of development.This does not include children with diagnosed severe disabilities.**Note: Children with severe disabilities were not included in the Alberta baseline data because they are not included in the Canadian norm by the Offord Centre, which created the EDI. Out of all the EDI questionnaires that were collected in Alberta, 2.5 per cent – or 2,154 – were for children with severe disabilities.
34Lethbridge Early Development Instrument (EDI) baseline results Source: Early Child Development Mapping Project (ECMap), April 2014
43SEI: It’s not just about income Slide: SEI: It’s not just about incomeSocio-economic status is defined by much more than just household income. It includes many other things, including the social and cultural conditions in a community. The socio-economic index (SEI), created by ECMap, is made up of five factors. Our research results showed that the economic factor is not always the most significant contributor to SES in communities and subcommunities. Other factors sometimes played a more important role.You can find out more about SEI results by going to the LiveAtlas on ECMap’s website. There you will find interactive maps that provide a breakdown of the SEI at the community and subcommunity level, and for Alberta.**More information on the SEI can also be found on pages I-15 to I-17 in the Introduction and in Appendix E: Mean scores of the SEI and its factors for the province, communities and subcommunities in the Community profiles report.
44The socio-economic connection Socio-economic status of communities has been related to EDI results.Children generally scored higher on the EDI in communities with positive SEI and lower in communities with lower SEI.Slide: The socio-economic connectionGeography did not appear to be a factor in EDI results, as already pointed out. But socio-economics did appear to be connected to community EDI results. Children tended to score higher on the EDI in communities with a positive socio-economic index (SEI) and lower in communities with a low SEI.This was not the case in all communities, however. A number of communities did not conform to this general trend.
45Largest # experiencing difficulties found in middle SEI communities Total number EGD1+ 20,116Slide: Largest number of children experiencing difficulties found in middle socio-economic communitiesThe socio-economics conditions of a community are linked to EDI results; a larger percentage of children struggle in communities with low SEI, and vice versa.BUT, the largest number of children who are experiencing difficulties are found in middle socio-economic level communities.This graph illustrates this in our EDI results. Out of 20,116 kindergarten-aged children who are experiencing great difficulty in one or more areas of development in Alberta, 16,552 live in middle SEI communities.Why? Overall more children live in middle-class homes and communities. The middle-class predominates in Alberta, and in the rest of Canada.
46Slide: Resources tied to SEI 23,100+ community resources identified by coalitions and mappedhigher socio-economic index (SEI) linked to greater frequency of resourcesmore study needed to understand connection between resources and EDISlide: Resources tied to SEICoalitions identified more than 23,100 community resources that relate to young children and families, using a template developed by ECMap. These resources were mapped in the LiveAtlas.A significant connection was found between the socio-economic index (SEI) of communities and the frequency of resources. Communities with a higher socio-economic status were found to have more resources.At this point, no link has been established between the frequency of resources within a community and EDI outcomes, however. A great deal more research needs to be done on the relationship between resources and EDI, including the impact of the quality of resources and how they are used.
48Building a strong foundation A solid foundationThe evidence is in: A child’s early brain development – and the early experiences that shape development – build a strong, or weak, foundation for life. Early development also lays the foundation for our communities and society. Positive early development enables our children to reach their potential and grow into healthy, productive, engaged citizens. This in turn paves the way for strong, vibrant communities and a prosperous, sustainable society.We often hear that it takes a village to raise a child. Turn the old proverb around to understand another truth. It also takes a child to raise a village.Early life experiences are critical in building a solid foundation for life.Early Child Development Mapping Project (ECMap) September 2013
54SummaryThousands of young children in Alberta are not reaching their potential.This represents a big loss in a province that has the fastest growing population of preschool children in Canada.All communities have young children who are struggling.Communities care passionately about their children.Slide: SummaryWhat have we learned after five years of research?This is a brief summary of some of ECMap’s key findings.
55Final Recommendations Continue to gather EDI data as part of a comprehensive early childhood development (ECD) monitoring system for AlbertaSupport the continuation of community coalitions in using research data for community and provincial action planning for ECD in ABEnsure healthy, nurturing environments are available for all children regardless of socio-economic status, disabilities, family circumstances, cultural backgrounds or geographic location in the provinceSlide: Final recommendations cont’dWhat do you think of these recommendations? Can you think of other strategies that should be implemented at the community level, throughout the province or nationally?
56Recommendations cont’d Develop a strategy to increase general knowledge and understanding of ECD in communities across AlbertaEstablish a provincial secretariat of Human Early Learning and Development with a cross- departmental mandate on ECDRe-examine the current qualifications for professionals in early education and improve knowledge about ECD in related fieldsSlide: Final recommendations cont’dWhat do you think of these recommendations? Can you think of other strategies that should be implemented at the community level, throughout the province or nationally?
57Check out the LiveAtlas Slide: Find research results on the LiveAtlasYou can find out more about EDI results and data on socio-economics and community resources for every community and subcommunity in Alberta on ECMap’s LiveAtlas.https://www.ecmap.ca/Findings-Maps/Pages/LiveAtlas.aspx
58Slide: For more information You can also find more detailed information in the How are our young children doing? series of reports produced by ECMap. The reports are posted on the website. The final report contains recommendations to help Alberta improve its early development outcomes and provide every young child with the positive start in life he or she needs to thrive and succeed.
59Champion for Children Make Alberta’s Children non-negiotable To access ECMap’s research data, reports and materials go to