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The Endowment for Human Development
The Endowment for Human Development
Improving lifelong health one pregnancy at a time.
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You can help give babies a healthy
start–and a healthy future.

"The Biggest Story in Human Health"

You have probably heard that a woman's health and lifestyle choices during pregnancy can affect the health of her baby. But did you know that her choices before and during pregnancy may impact her baby's health, not just at birth, but for a lifetime? This “Link” between prenatal and lifelong health is so important, it has been called “the biggest story in human health."1

The Problem: Preventable Tragedies

Inadequate nutrition and the use of harmful substances before and during pregnancy place women at increased risk of pregnancy complications. These same prenatal factors also increase newborns' risk of future diseases, learning disabilities, and behavioral disorders.

Many factors influence a woman’s nutritional status and lifestyle choices (use of tobacco, alcohol, and other harmful substances) before and during pregnancy. Socioeconomic factors and preexisting medical conditions are among the important contributors.

In addition, a profound lack of awareness of early human development and the long-term consequences of dietary and lifestyle choices (as revealed in this new research) plays a significant role.

Some conditions impacted
by prenatal factors:

  • ADHD
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Eating disorders
  • Heart disease
  • Learning disabilities
  • Low birth weight
  • Obesity
  • Prematurity
  • Spina bifida
  • Stillbirth
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

The Solution: Prevention Through Effective Education

The good news is that these problems can be improved or prevented by changing perceptions and behaviors through effective education. Thanks to successful public health efforts, some progress has already been made. In spite of this progress, however, many men and women continue to engage in unhealthy behaviors. A new approach is needed.

"The best possible start in life"

"Until I saw the video [4-D ultrasound] of Katy at 20 weeks old, I could not relate to this lump growing inside me enough to want to give up my cigarettes. But as soon as I saw the beautiful pictures of my daughter, it felt criminal to do anything which might cause her harm. I stopped smoking straight away, gave up my glasses of wine and concentrated on making myself as healthy as possible to give Katy the best possible start in life."

From "Womb view boost for expectant parents."
BBC News, July 6, 2001

Our Strategy: Make Pregnancy Real and Relevant

Making pregnancy real is important because profound knowledge gaps exist among teachers and students regarding basic early human development and must be remedied. The fastest way to bring everyone from the “lack of awareness” stage to the “I get it” stage is with stunning imagery. Making pregnancy real need not take longer than watching select portions of our 42-minute DVD. Building this visual foundation provides a memorable and scientifically accurate framework, allowing everyone to place related health information into proper context.

Making pregnancy relevant helps create the motivation that results in behavior change. If everyone better understood early human development and how a mother’s health influences the lifelong health of her baby, many people—women and men—would behave differently toward pregnancy and toward pregnant women.

What We Do:

  • Develop award-winning teaching tools (DVD and website)
  • Equip educators, physicians, nurses, and public health officials
  • Donate our DVD to teachers, libraries, schools, colleges, and clinics (as funding allows)
  • Educate communities through various media and programs
  • Translate resources into as many languages as possible to benefit international audiences
1Quote by Peter W. Nathanielsz, M.D., Ph.D., from McKeown LA, 2001.