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Health promotion in the first 1000 days of life: a multiregional project coordinated by the ISS

The first 1000 days of life is a critical period during which the foundations of a person’s lifelong development and health are laid. Investing in intersectoral interventions aimed at protecting and promoting the health of children early in their lives has indeed been identified as a priority by global public health organizations, such as WHO and UNICEF.


With this objective in mind, a project was carried out entitled “A survey of the preventive and clinical care pathways offered to women, couples and parents, for the purpose of promoting the first 1000 days of life and identifying good practices, organizational models and suitable interventions”. The project involved services and professionals within different areas of health and social care that are key to ensuring healthy child development, such as: preconception, antenatal, childbirth and postpartum care (during the child’s first two years of life); promotion of parenting skills; perinatal mental health support; violence and accident prevention.


Funded under the 2019 programme of the Ministry of Health’s National Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CCM), and coordinated by the National Centre for Disease Prevention and Health Promotion of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS), the project ran between 2020 and 2023, and involved ad hoc surveys in three main areas: maternity care; perinatal mental health; responsive parenting support.


That included a survey on the quality of maternity care, as perceived by women who had given birth between May and October 2022 at 16 maternity units in 9 Regions all across the country and 1 Autonomous Province (AP). Information was also collected about the perinatal mental health promotion and support pathways offered by family planning services in the same Regions/AP, which was integrated with the findings of a national survey of the care models offered by mental health departments for the management of perinatal mental distress.


Four regional health authorities took part in: a workshop-based qualitative study targeted at primary/social care, education and social policy professionals with a role in protecting and promoting health in the first 1000 days of life; a survey of primary care paediatricians to assess their knowledge, attitudes and clinical practices regarding protection and promotion of the physical and mental health of both children and their parents during the first 2 years of life.


Read about the end-of-project conference held on 20 April 2023 (in Italian), and a summary of the findings from the project.


ISS scientific coordinators

“Project carried out with technical and financial support from the Ministry of Health - CCM”.



Publication date: 20 April 2023

Authors: Ilaria Lega¹, Enrica Pizzi¹, Laura Lauria¹, Angela Giusti¹, Silvia Andreozzi¹, Mauro Bucciarelli¹, Claudia Ferraro¹, Gabriella Martelli¹, Sonia Brescianini², Laura Camoni², Virgilia Toccaceli², Renata Bortolus³, Serena Donati¹
¹ Centro Nazionale per la Prevenzione delle Malattie e la Promozione della Salute, Istituto Superiore di Sanità
² Centro di Riferimento per le Scienze Comportamentali e la Salute Mentale, Istituto Superiore di Sanità
³Direzione generale della prevenzione sanitaria, ministero della Salute