CAD.20.015 – Healthy EArly Life Start (HEALS) Applied: optimizing opportunities in the first 1000 days to reduce stress and its adverse effects in early life, in routine preventive care

Route: Child and adolescent development, upbringing and education

Cluster question: 059 How can we help children and adolescents grow up safe and healthy?

The first 1000 days of life, from conception till age two years, shape people’s life. Unhealthy stress in this early period, e.g. exposure to trauma, violence, and maltreatment/neglect may have detrimental, lifetime effects on physical and psychological health. Effects depend on intensity and type of stress, and resilience of child and parents, affecting quality of life, development, health and healthcare costs. The Healthy EArly Life Start (HEALS) Applied project aims to maximize the opportunities for a healthy and meaningful further life by elucidating new routes to decrease the adverse effects of Stress in Early Life (SEL) at community level. It applies 1) our knowledge that SEL is potentially detrimental, and 2) the excellent Dutch infrastructure for prevention in early life, i.e. obstetric, maternity, and preventive child healthcare. HEALS Applied elicits pathways from SEL and its determinants to adverse health outcomes in e.g. growth and development (WP1). This supports identifying tools for detection of SEL in routine care (WP2), and for intervening on SEL and its adverse consequences (WP3). Detection includes questionnaires, tests, observations, wearables, and biomarkers. Interventions reduce either children’s exposure to SEL or its detrimental effects, personalized to the type of SEL-exposure. HEALS Applied focuses on promise for routine practice, prenatally and postnatally (WP4). To guarantee feasibility, parents, practitioners, and tool developers co-create and continuously evaluate progress.

HEALS Applied combines profound expertise on biological and psychosocial routes leading to SEL with extensive expertise on innovation in detection, and intervention design and evaluation, and a strong network in prenatal, obstetric and preventive child healthcare. It has access to excellent community-based datasets (Lifelines, Generation R, ABCD); to state-of-the-art wearables, biomarkers, and evaluation techniques; and to care providers.
HEALS Applied has game-changing potential. It provides individualized approaches for timely prevention of SEL, effectively neutralizing its lifetime detrimental effects and societal costs.


community-based prevention, early life, pathways, Stress, wearables

Other organisations

Academic Collaborative Centre on Youth SAMEN, Amsterdam UMC, Body & Behavior, C4Youth, Cognition & Behaviour, Department of Computer Science, Department of Microbiology and Systems Biology, Department of Psychology, Department of Public & Occupational Health, Donders Institute for Brain, Education & Child Studies, Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, i3B, ICT for Brain, Netherlands Center Youth Health (NCJ), Northern Academic Collaborative Centre on Youth, Radboud Medical Center (RUMC), Research group Co-Design, TNO, TNO Child Health, Universiteit Twente (UT), Utrecht University of Applied Sciences


Organisation University Medical Center Groningen, Department of Health Sciences (UMCG)
Name Prof.dr. Menno (S.A.) Reijneveld