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Good health is something every parent wants for their child. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to help your child have the best possible start in life and to promote their future health and well-being.

The benefits of a healthy childhood are wide-ranging and extend well into adulthood. Children who eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly are far more likely to become healthy and active adults.

Good health begins before birth, so it is vital that mothers-to-be look after their own health before, during and after pregnancy. Smoking during pregnancy puts the baby’s health at risk and increases the chance of having a low birth weight baby, sometimes with serious health problems. Second-hand smoke is dangerous for children and puts them at a higher risk of respiratory infections, asthma and cot death. Children who live in homes where someone smokes are also more prone to coughs and colds.

Sleep is very important for children and a lack of sleep will have a negative effect on their behaviour and ability to concentrate. Children who are not getting enough sleep may struggle at school.

Immunisation is equally important and plays a vital role in preventing disease. Widespread immunisation helps to wipe out previously common childhood diseases.

Unfortunately, not every child is blessed with good health and some children are born with one or more disabilities or a chronic condition they must learn to manage.

Good health isn’t just about physical fitness and being free from illness. A young person’s emotional and mental well-being affects every aspect of their life, including their self-esteem, their stress levels, their relationships and the likelihood of them developing eating disorders or starting to self-harm. Young people who are extremely emotionally distressed may have suicidal thoughts.

Puberty can be a difficult time for young people as they cope with rapid body changes and deal with unfamiliar emotions. This is a time when young people often start showing more interest in romantic and sexual relationships and may start experimenting with drugs and alcohol.

Life is unpredictable and good health – both physical and mental – should never be taken for granted. 

Last updated: 16/02/2018