Developmental vulnerability – don't investigate without a model in mind

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Children who are developmentally vulnerable are at risk of a difficult start to school, and ongoing educational challenges which may adversely impact on long term health outcomes. Clinicians, researchers and service providers need a thorough understanding of both risk and protective factors and their complex interplay to understand their impact on early childhood development, in order to plan effective and comprehensive prevention and interventions strategies. In this opinion piece we recommend that investigation of developmental vulnerability should only proceed if underpinned by both a theoretical model through which the interaction between risk and protective factors may be investigated, and analytical models that are appropriate to assess these impacts.

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