Innovation in Action

Pediatric Innovation Initiative

Leveraging 21st-century science to strengthen health care for young children

In the crucial years between birth and age 3, most children will visit their pediatrician many times. From regular well-child check-ups for monitoring growth and development and administering immunizations to visits for the common illnesses of early childhood, pediatricians have unique, frequent access to young children and their families. This makes them well-positioned to build supportive relationships with families, promote child development, recognize potential health risks, and provide referral for additional services when needed. When viewed within the context of the Center’s mission to dramatically improve outcomes for children and families facing adversity through science-based innovation, it’s easy to see why engaging with the pediatric sector has become a high priority for our work.

Pediatric primary care is uniquely qualified to serve as a key test bed for translating 21st-century biology and new measures into more effective strategies for strengthening the foundations of early learning, adaptive behavior, and both physical and mental health.

What Is the Pediatric Innovation Initiative?

It began in 2015 with the creation of the JPB Research Network on Toxic Stress as an ambitious project to engage scientists, pediatric clinicians, and community leaders as full partners in the development of new measures to identify young children who show signs of being more or less sensitive to adversity than others—and thus more or less likely to develop difficulties as well as respond to preventive interventions. Building on its initial focus on developing measures of stress and resilience, this effort has evolved into a national network of change agents committed to leveraging cutting-edge science, community-based wisdom, and clinical expertise to create the future of primary care pediatrics. Capitalizing on this unique opportunity at the intersection of measurement development and practice innovation, the Center’s Pediatric Innovation Initiative, which includes the JPB Research Network, Pediatric Thought Leaders, and Community and Parent Leadership Council, aims to empower parents and pediatricians with information and tools that will strengthen the doctor-family relationship and promote the healthy development of all young children.

Pediatric Innovation Initiative Objectives

  • Develop a battery of biological and behavioral measures of stress activation in young children that will empower health care providers and parents to identify variation in young children’s response to adversity.
  • Ensure the ethical use of the measures of stress activation and prevent inappropriate labeling and other unintended consequences.
  • Test the utility of the battery as a measure of intervention effects.
  • Lay the foundation for the implementation of measures of stress activation in pediatric primary care.

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