Dr Patricia Lucas and Dr Jo Williams, Directors of the Early Years Health and Wellbeing Health Integration Team (BoNEE HIT), give an update on the HIT’s progress in 2015-16.
The Bristol Network for Equality in Early Years Health and Wellbeing (BoNEE) aims to tackle the health inequalities that have a profound and lifelong impact on the health and wellbeing of children. Deprivation in Bristol is higher than average for England, with nearly 20,000 children living in poverty. With a rising child population, Bristol needs a local evidence base along with staff and services that recognise and respond to inequalities in children’s health.
Our research into children’s oral health in Bristol has focussed on two strands: comparing rates of extractions of decayed teeth under general anaesthetic in Bristol Dental Hospital, taking account of socio-economic factors; and establishing rates of dental attendance among children under five. We reported our findings to over 70 delegates at our oral health symposium in March 2016, including dental practitioners, other oral health professionals and students. We presented evidence of the extent of inequalities in oral health in Bristol and promoted workable strategies for dental services to engage with very young children and their families.
We are now reviewing the oral health needs of children with special needs, working with Bristol Parent Carers Forum.
Nutrition plays a vital part in children’s development so we have investigated making Healthy Start vitamin supplements universally available to children, while addressing the need for vitamin D for particular ethnic groups. We have helped evaluate cooking activities focused on feeding babies and toddlers at the Wellspring Healthy Living Centre.
Looking ahead, we will consider how we can contribute to Bristol’s healthy weight strategy and how it can use existing links with the established Bristol Infant Nutrition and Nurture Group to develop projects.
We have completed a descriptive analysis of inequalities in measures of school readiness, and explored what that tells us about social and emotional wellbeing of young children in Bristol. Working with Public Health Wales, we have carried out a systematic review of interventions by professionals to support early development in under twos.
In the coming year, we will be supporting the development of the integrated two year check, carried out by health visitors and early years staff, which will include the existing Ages and Stages Questionnaire for parents.