Health — 04 December 2010
Early medical intervention cuts health costs in old age - surprise finding

Early medical intervention cuts health costs in old age - surprise finding.

The risk of age-related illnesses can be reduced and the associated increase in health costs mitigated with the aid of professional care and support in early childhood, said the winners of the Klaus J. Jacobs research prize, Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi, at the award ceremony in Zurich on Friday.

The Anglo-American scientists were awarded one million Swiss francs by the Jacobs Foundation for their research into child and youth development. Moffitt and Caspi, professors of neuropsychology at Duke University, North Carolina, USA, and King’s College, London, have until recently concentrated their studies on the long-term impact of childhood experiences. Now they intend to focus on the effects on health, Terrie Moffitt announced in her acceptance speech.

She explained that initial investigations had shown that stress and traumatic experiences in childhood increase the risk of developing immunodeficiency disorders, heart and circulatory problems, as well as age-related dementia.

According to Terrie Moffitt, care and support during early childhood would become a key to solving the problems of ageing societies, if the connection between stress-free childhood and health in old age proved to be conclusive: the onset of age-related illnesses would be postponed, and there would be fewer problems in old age. The bottom line was that it would be possible to curb the increase in health costs, which is to a large extent fuelled by increased life expectancy.

‘The research findings of Moffitt and Caspi make me confident that intervention programs for youth development are meaningful and necessary, particularly for children and youth at risk. This will encourage all the non-profit-organization members who have dedicated their workforce to improving the state of the disadvantaged around the world”, said an enthusiastic Dr. Auma Obama at the award ceremony.

The half sister of US President Barack Obama who was elected as a new member of the board of trustees of the Jacobs Foundation during the current year, pursues a full-time career in youth development projects in Africa. Early support is a focal point of the development work carried out by the Jacobs Foundation.

With the Klaus J. Jacobs Best Practice Award, worth 200,000 Swiss francs, the foundation fittingly paid tribute to an early play and development program – the models developed by the Opstapje association in Germany and the a:primo association in Switzerland. These models provide care, support and education for parents of children from the age of two on the basis of home visits. The support program is now active in over sixty German and Swiss towns.

Find initial photos of the award ceremony on Flickr from approx. 5.30 pm http://www.flickr.com/photos/jacobs_foundation/sets Find the presentation films of the event on YouTube from 4 pm http://www.youtube.com/jacobsfoundation Find all additional information on the winners and the prize at http://http://award.jacobsfoundation.org/de/

Background information on the Jacobs Foundation

The Zurich-based private Jacobs Foundation was established in 1988 by entrepreneur Klaus J. Jacobs. Ever since, the foundation has focused its efforts on the development of children and youth. Today it has many decades of experience in the funding of science and specific intervention programs and their implementation in this field.

The Foundation deploys an approach of child and youth development, which puts special emphasis on the positive development opportunities for young people. As far as its methods and approaches are concerned, it is particularly committed to scientific excellence and evidence-based findings.

With its investment of EUR 200 million in the Jacobs University Bremen (2006), it set new standards in the area of private funding.

Contact: Martin A. Senn Jacobs Foundation Seefeldquai 17 Post office box 8034 Zurich Switzerland E-Mail: martin.senn@jacobsfoundation.org Phone: +41-44-388-61-06 Mobile: +41-79-301-84-68

Source: Jacobs Foundation Contact: Martin A. Senn, Jacobs Foundation, Seefeldquai 17, Post office box, 8034 Zurich, Switzerland, E-Mail: martin.senn@jacobsfoundation.org, Phone: +41-44-388-61-06, Mobile: +41-79-301-84-68

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Richard Lee

Richard has been traveling since he took a year off from college, where he was doing a BA in Journalism. He traveled half the world, backpacking with his girlfriend (now his wife). They spent time in South America, Asia, Greece and much of Europe. After writing about his experiences for several airline and travel magazines, he never went back to college.

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