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The social determinants of early child development: An overview


Stefania Maggi, Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies and the Department of Psychology, Carleton University, Dunton Tower – Room 2210, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, K1S 5B6, Canada. Fax: +613 520 3985; email:


Aim:  This paper offers an overview of the current state of knowledge of the critical social determinants of child development and the complex ways in which these can influence health trajectories.

Methods:  We conducted an overview of the research conducted by medical and social scientists in the attempt to uncover the conditions under which children reach optimal health and developmental.

Results:  The first years of life represent a critical period during which trajectories of health vulnerability are determined by the complex interplay between biological, genetic, and environmental conditions.

Conclusions:  There are fundamental principles of optimal child development that apply to all human beings, regardless of language and culture.