The rights of children for optimal development and nurturing care

Julie Uchitel, Errol Alden, Zulfiqar A. Bhutta, Jeffrey Goldhagen, Aditee Pradhan Narayan, Shanti Raman, Nick Spencer, Donald Wertlieb, Jane Wettach, Sue Woolfenden, Mohamad A. Mikati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Millions of children are subjected to abuse, neglect, and displacement, and millions more are at risk for not achieving their developmental potential. Although there is a global movement to change this, driven by children's rights, progress is slow and impeded by political considerations. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a global comprehensive commitment to children's rights ratified by all countries in the world except the United States (because of concerns about impingement on sovereignty and parental authority), has a special General Comment on "Implementing Child Rights in Early Childhood." More recently, the World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund have launched the Nurturing Care Framework for Early Childhood Development (ECD), which calls for public policies that promote nurturing care interventions and addresses 5 interrelated components that are necessary for optimal ECD. This move is also complemented by the Human Capital Project of the World Bank, providing a focus on the need for investments in child health and nutrition and their long-term benefits. In this article, we outline children's rights under international law, the underlying scientific evidence supporting attention to ECD, and the philosophy of nurturing care that ensures that children's rights are respected, protected, and fulfilled. We also provide pediatricians anywhere with the policy and rights-based frameworks that are essential for them to care for and advocate for children and families to ensure optimal developmental, health, and socioemotional outcomes. These recommendations do not necessarily reflect American Academy of Pediatrics policy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere20190487
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


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