Welcome to the third A Better Start Southend research bulletin produced by Rachel Wood.

Here, we provide you with regular updates on the latest early years policy, practice and evidence, and inform you how we are using these latest findings to influence our work here in Southend.

If you would like to sign up to receive these updates or have a question please email abetterstart@southend.gov.uk.

UK child health and wellbeing lagging behind the rest of Europe

Title: State of Child Health report 2017
Research source: Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health
Publication date: 26 January 2017
Authors: Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health

Our Summary

Child health in the UK is ‘lagging behind’ among deprived families, with poverty blighting children’s lives. The stark inequality has been highlighted by the State of Child Health report, launched by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. It brings together data, for the first time, on 25 measures of the health of UK children, ranging from specific conditions such as asthma and epilepsy, to risk factors for poor health such as obesity and a low rate of breastfeeding.

The report claims to be the first attempt to standardise UK children’s health data to produce a robust framework which can improve developmental outcomes. In order to do this, it is crucial that action is taken, and where evidence is limited that research and testing of interventions are essential in establishing change.

Compiled by child health experts, with input from children and young people themselves, the report provides clear recommendations to improve child health:

  • Implement a strategic coordinated set of cross-UK actions to improve children’s health
  • Adopt a ‘child health in all policies’ approach
  • Introduce a ban on the advertising of foods high in saturated fat, sugar and salt before 9pm
  • Develop cross-departmental support for breastfeeding; this should include a national public health campaign and a sector-wide approach that includes employers
  • Expand national programmes to measure the height and weight of infants and children after birth, before school and during adolescence
  • Reverse public health cuts in England, which disproportionately affect children’s services
  • Introduce minimum unit alcohol pricing in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, in keeping with actions by the Scottish Government
  • Extend the ban on smoking in public places to schools, playgrounds and hospitals
  • UK Government to prohibit the marketing of electronic cigarettes to children and young people
  • Use national campaigns to promote good nutrition and exercise before, during and after pregnancy

How we’re applying the research in Southend

  • We are working with our partners to use our data in a way that enables us to not only monitor progress but also maximise our impact on key developmental outcomes.
  • As a research programme we are working with partners to develop our capacity to contribute to the child health evidence base.
  • Through our work on diet and nutrition we are trialling ways to enhance family health.

Join the debate

  • What will be most effective in reducing child poverty and inequality in Southend?
  • How can we best support infant and parental mental health and wellbeing?
  • What support, guidance and standards do we need to adopt or consider adopting?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

Snapshot of child health in Southend

Title: Southend on Sea Child Health Profile 2016
Research source: Public Health England
Publication date: 15 March 2016
Authors: Public Health Observatories

Our Summary

The Child Health Profile provides a snapshot of child health in Southend-on-Sea and is designed to help the local authority and health services improve health and wellbeing and tackle inequalities. It sets out 32 child health indicators and compares performance against the rest of England.

Headlines

  • In 2014 the profile reports that there were 2,212 live births in Southend-on-Sea, with a total population between 0 and4 years of 11,400.
  • In 2013 it is reported that 20.6% of our children were living in poverty, which is higher than the England average.
  • 9.1% of children in Southend aged 4-5 years are classified as obese.

The following child health indicators are worse than the England average:

  • Children in care immunisations
  • 16-18 year olds not in education, employment or training
  • Under 16s in poverty
  • Hospital admissions for mental health conditions

How we’re applying the research in Southend

  • We continually monitor Southend’s progress against our key developmental outcomes, as well as existing data sources including the Child Health Profile.
  • A Better Start Southend exists to ensure that our children have the same or better outcomes than the England average.

Join the debate

  • How can we make wider use of available information sources including the Child Health Profile?
  • How can we and our partners best address health inequalities in Southend-on-Sea?
  • How would you like to be involved in monitoring our progress?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

If you’re interested in reading more about child health, see Southend’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy and annual reports.

Diet and nutrition

Title: Expectant Parents’ views of factors influencing infant feeding decisions in the ante-natal period: A Systematic Review
Research source: International Journal of Nursing Studies
Publication date: 27 April 2016
Authors: Roll, C.L and Cheater, F

Our Summary

This review of a series of research papers explores the factors that influence expectant parents’ infant feeding decisions during pregnancy. It looks at the personal and environmental factors that determine parents’ behaviour. It identifies the following themes that determine feeding choices: bonding and attachment, body image, self-esteem and confidence, female role models, family and support network, lifestyle, formal information sources, knowledge, and feeding in front of others and in public.

Findings reflected existing thinking that the expectant mother’s feeding decisions are influenced by her own mother’s behaviour, as well as the way professionals attempted to support and inform them about their feeding choices. Cultural and social influences are also important.

How we’re applying the research in Southend

  • We know that by improving the diet and nutrition of babies, we will help improve infant and paternal mental health, as well as mothers’. This is why we have made it one of our key priorities for 2017-2018.
  • Co-production is one of the core principles of A Better Start Southend, and this means that parents’ views and experiences are a crucial to the way we design services.
  • We know that peer support plays a vital role in the support families choose to receive.

Join the debate

  • What health promotion activities would support the themes proposed by the research?
  • How can we increase our understanding of expectant fathers’ views of infant feeding decisions?
  • How can we best support women who wish to continue to breastfeed?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

Title: The HAPPY feasibility Randomised Control Trial: Acceptability and feasibility of an intervention to reduce infant obesity
Research source: BMC Public Health
Publication date: 1 March 2016
Authors: McEachan, R.R.C, Santorelli, G. Bryant, M. Sahota, P. Farrar, D.  Small, N. Akhtar, S. Sargent, J. Barber, S.E. Taylor, N. Richardson, G. Farrin,  A.J. Bhopal, R.S. Bingham, D.D. Ahern, S.M.  Wright, J.

Our Summary

This study argues that there are insufficient evidence-based approaches to prevent infant obesity. A feasibility randomised controlled trial was conducted in Bradford, aiming to reduce obesity risks in infants of overweight or obese women during and after pregnancy.

One hundred and twenty overweight or obese pregnant women were recruited between 10–26 weeks gestation and consenting women were randomly allocated to attend HAPPY, a course of six antenatal and six postnatal sessions. Take up was low and 66% of women failed to attend, but those who went to the first session were likely to continue.

How we’re applying the research in Southend

  • We recognise the evidence of the link between maternal obesity and that of their babies.
  • We work closely with the other A Better Start sites and are able to share learning and development with each other.
  • We are currently carrying out research with our families to ensure that our projects are meeting their needs. This means we’ll be reaching as many people as possible that that we’ll have a greater understanding as to why some feel unable to attend support activities.
  • We test improvements to our projects over time, ensuring they are having the most impact possible. One of these is HENRY (Health, Nutrition and Exercise for the Really Young) which helps the whole family develop a healthier and more active lifestyle.

Join the debate

  • What activities will best support local families in developing healthy lifestyles?
  • How do you think that we can maximise attendance at such activities?
  • In what ways would you like to be kept informed of learnings from A Better Start?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

Parenting premature children

Title: Parenting behaviour at 2 years predicts school-age performance at 7 years in very preterm children
Research source: Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Publication date: July 2016
Authors: Treyvaud, K. Doyle, L.W. Lee, K.J Ure, A. Inder, T.E. Hunt, R.W. and Anderson, P.J

Our Summary

It is well evidenced that parenting influences child development, however the impact of early parenting behaviour on school age outcomes in very preterm children is unclear. Through this study the authors argue that higher levels of Parent-child synchrony, parent facilitation, sensitivity, and positivity were associated with better child outcomes at age seven, whilst higher levels of intrusiveness and negativity were associated with poorer outcomes.

On this basis it is argued that parenting strategies should be included in Neonatal Intensive Care Units and specialist programmes for very preterm children.

How we’re applying the research in Southend

  • We are working with our partners to develop an enhanced Healthy Child Programme which is co-produced by parents. We want to extend support to all of our expectant parents, looking in particular at gaps in provision which we might be able to fill.

Join the debate

  • How can we ensure that expectant parents receive parenting information and support as early as possible in the pregnancy?
  • Do you think that this research means that specialist parenting support should be provided for very preterm children, or that all expectant parents should receive the same services?

Let us know what you think by e-mailing abetterstart@southend.gov.uk

 

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