On January 24, 2008, the Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on Health Disparities; the Institute of Medicine’s Board on Children, Youth, and Families; the Satcher Health Leadership Institute of the Morehouse School of Medicine; and the Healthcare Georgia Foundation cosponsored a public workshop to discuss in depth the important foundations of adult health that are laid prenatally and early in childhood. Nicole Lurie, chair of the IOM Roundtable, noted that those who study the health care system and those who study social determinants of health do not have many opportunities to interact with one another, either on an academic level or on a community level. As such, the workshop, entitled “Investing in Children’s Health: A Community Approach to Addressing Health Disparities,” was designed to continue to advance the dialogue about health disparities by facilitating discussion among stakeholders in the community, academia, health care, business, policy, and philanthropy.
Workshop speakers were asked to do the following:
Describe the evidence linking early childhood life conditions and adult health.
Discuss the contribution of the early life course to observed racial and ethnic disparities in health.
Highlight successful models that engage both community factors and health care to affect life course development.
David Satcher, 16th surgeon general of the United States and director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute, presented the keynote address to the Roundtable, describing investments in children’s health and how policy can affect children’s lives. The foundation for discussion was then set by the presentation of two review papers, one by Bernard Guyer of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, analyzing the economics of early childhood interventions, and one by Charles Bruner of the Child Family Policy Center and Edward Schor of the Commonwealth Fund, addressing clinical practice and community building. The practical issues of implementing health policies directed toward children were discussed by Christine Ferguson of the George Washington University Department of Heath Policy and Yvonne Sanders-Butler of Browns Mill Elementary and Magnet School in Georgia.
Mildred Thompson of PolicyLink and co-chair of the Roundtable provided the workshop participants with an opportunity to preview a segment of a forthcoming PBS documentary series entitled Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?, which explores socioeconomic and racial inequities in health. The segment screened at the workshop, entitled “When the