Why 1,000 Days

Photo credit: USAID

The 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and her child’s 2nd birthday offer a unique window of opportunity to build healthier and more prosperous futures.

The first 1,000 days are a time of tremendous potential and enormous vulnerability. How well or how poorly mothers and children are nourished and cared for during this time has a profound impact on a child’s ability to grow, learn and thrive. This is because the first 1,000 days are when a child’s brain begins to grow and develop and when the foundations for their lifelong health are built.

Research in the fields of neuroscience, biology and early childhood development provide powerful insights into how nutrition, relationships, and environments in the 1,000 days between a woman’s pregnancy and a child’s 2nd birthday shape future outcomes.

Nutrition, in particular, plays a foundational role in a child’s development and her country’s ability to prosper. Poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days can cause irreversible damage to a child’s growing brain, affecting her ability to do well in school and earn a good living—and making it harder for a child and her family to rise out of poverty. It can also set the stage for later obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases which can lead to a lifetime of health problems.

Studies show that countries that fail to invest in the well-being of women and children in the first 1,000 days lose billions of dollars to lower economic productivity and higher health costs. It is why several of the world’s leading economists have called for greater investments in the nutrition and well-being of mothers, babies, and toddlers as a way to create brighter and more prosperous futures for us all.


Building Brains

Nutrition in the first 1,000 days provides the building blocks for brain development.

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Healthy futures begin in the first 1,000 days.

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a Fair Start

Nourishing a strong start for all children.

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Building Prosperity

The case for investing in the first 1,000 days.

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Key Facts


plus new brain connections
formed per second in the
first years of a child’s life.


lives of young children could be saved every year if more women were supported to breastfeed.


return for every $1 invested in improving the nutrition of mothers and children in the first 1,000 days.

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