Life Course


AMCHP supports the life course approach to maternal and child health. 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 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 manages collaborative efforts with members and develops and promotes resources with partners across the maternal and child health community.  

Current Projects

  • Life Course Metrics Project: In early 2012 AMCHP launched the Life Course Metrics Project, a collaborative effort to identify and promote a standardized set of indicators that can be used to measure progress using the life course approach to improve maternal and child health. The project is funded with the support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

  • State Life Course Resource Center: These websites provide tools and resources that are specifically targeted to the state level.

    1. State Tools & Resources

    2. Best Practices

    3. Families

    4. Research & Additional Resourcesfamily

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

  • 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.

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.
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. 


Staff Contacts

For the Life Course Metrics Project, please contact Caroline Stampfel at

For the Life Course Resource Center, and if you're interested in submitting a resource to the center, please contact Kate Taft at