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COVID-19 Stories: Child Health and Development Project: MS Thrive!

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We are working to improve the developmental health of children from birth to age five in Mississippi.

The early years are an important time to support brain development. In the first few years of life, more than one million neural connections are formed every second. The more brain-building opportunities young children have in their first five years—like talking, reading, and singing with adults—the stronger their brain connections. Adults don’t need anything other than their positive relationships with children to build young brains.

Young children learn to do many new things, like smiling, taking first steps, picking up a favorite toy, and more. These are called developmental milestones and usually happen at certain ages. As your child’s first teacher, you can use milestone checklists to mark your child’s milestones and celebrate the milestones they reach. Checklists are available at You can also talk about your child’s development with other adults in his or her life; they may have helpful observations to share about your child’s milestones.

It’s important to note your child’s progress and ask your health care provider any questions you may have. Developmental delays may be noted when children do not reach milestones at the times we expect. The earlier you act on any concerns, the more your child may succeed in school and beyond. You can bring milestone checklists to visits with your child’s health care provider and review them together. Find more information here: or regular, formal checks of your child’s development.

While using milestone checklists is important, a developmental screening, which is a structured set of questions, looks even closer for any delays. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that health care providers should screen all children at their regular visits when they are 9 months, 18 months, and 24 or 30 months old. Don’t be afraid to ask your child’s health care provider for a developmental screening at these visits or any time you have a concern. For more information about where to get screenings and other developmental support, call Help Me Grow at 1-844-822-4MAC.

The Child Health and Development Project: Mississippi Thrive! (CHDP) is a joint project of the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s (UMMC) Center for the Advancement of Youth (CAY) and the Social Science Research Center (SSRC) of Mississippi State University (MSU). The CHDP is funded by the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA). Our goal is to improve the developmental health of children ages 0-5 in Mississippi.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $10.5 million with 0 percent financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit

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