State Life Course Resource Center
AMCHP supports the life course approach to maternal and child health. To further promote the adoption and integration of this approach within state Title V maternal and child health and children and youth with special health care needs programs, AMCHP has established the State Life Course Resource Center. This website provides tools and resources that are targeted specifically to the state level.
Overall health is affected not only by genetics and environment, but also a range of factors that occur throughout an individual’s life. The health of an infant cannot be fully understood without considering the impact of factors like maternal nutrition and stress level, nor can the health of a pregnant woman be fully understood without considering the impact of socioeconomic status and exposure to environmental toxins.
Life course is a theoretical model that takes into consideration the full spectrum of factors that impact an individual’s health, not just at one stage of life (e.g. adolescence), but through all stages of life (e.g. infancy, childhood, adolescence, childbearing age, elderly age).1 Life course theory shines light on health and disease patterns – particularly health disparities – across populations and over time. Life course theory also points to broad social, economic and environmental factors as underlying causes of persistent inequalities in health for a wide range of diseases and conditions across population groups.2
State Tools & Resources
AMCHP's Life Course Indicator Development Project!
AMCHP, with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, has launched a new project to identify and promote a set of indicators to measure progress using the life course approach to improve maternal and child health. The Life Course Metrics Project will work collaboratively with up to five state teams to develop a core set of life course indicators. Learn more here.
AMCHP’s Core Principles of a Life Course Approach to Maternal and Child Health
A life course approach encourages a focus on health across the lifespan, and recognizes the following:3
1. Fine, et. al., Contra Costa Health Services, Policy Brief: A New Agenda for MCH Policy and Programs: Integrating a Life Course Perspective, October 2009.
- A stages of life theory.
- The influence of environmental, biological, economic, behavioral, social and psychological impacts on health outcomes across the lifespan.
- The potential cumulative effects of these influences on health outcomes.
- That health promotion and prevention interventions can be targeted at different stages in life.
- That connections exist between life stages, i.e. the relationship between adolescence and the two life stages that border it: childhood and adulthood.
- That efforts should be coordinated both across life stages and across the lifespan.
2. US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Rethinking MCH: The Life Course Model as an Organizing Framework, Concept Paper, November 2010.
3. Compiled by AMCHP staff based on information from the MCHB Concept Paper, Rethinking MCH: The Life Course Model as an Organizing Framework, and Dr. Michael C. Lu and Dr. Neal Halfon’s work around life course.
Please contact Kate Howe, Program Manager for Child Health, if you are interested in submitting a resource to the State Life Course Resource Center.