3 May 2017

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) today released the Report on the Evidence: promoting social and emotional development and wellbeing of infants in pregnancy and the first year of life (Report on the Evidence).

It summarises the findings of 51 systematic literature reviews and analyses the types of interventions aimed at promoting infants’ and children’s social and emotional wellbeing.    

‘The Report of the Evidence is the first of its kind for NHMRC, and expands the forms of advice we offer the community and health professionals on health issues,’ said NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso AO.

‘We believe it will be useful for service delivery areas and policy developers in helping them to base their programs on evidence. It will also be useful for researchers, assisting them to design high quality research on this important topic, filling gaps that this Report identified.’

NHMRC’s Mental Health and Parenting Working Committee Chair, Professor Jane Fisher, hopes the report findings will encourage research involving purpose-designed, well-reported studies that can guide future policy and practice in Australia.

‘Social and emotional development is the foundation of a child’s developing sense of identity, beginning in the earliest days and continuing throughout life. Parents and caregivers who are positive, sensitive, responsive, and do not use physical punishment, help to develop early social-emotional development,’ Professor Fisher added.   

‘This can secure that special emotional bond between the infant and caregiver, and help develop the infant’s early cognitive ability.’

The Working Committee guided this work using a rigorous and comprehensive approach to assess the evidence and reach conclusions about selected interventions.